Understanding and controlling electron flows in electro-active biofilms

Bio-electrochemical systems (BESs) have been referred as a new technology for chemicals productions, bioremediation and power generation. The role of electro-active microorganisms in these systems is crucial. However, their performance in terms of current output is not competitive for practical application. Recently, higher currents have been reported for electro-active bacteria (EAB) controlled under intermittent polarization. Using this regime, biofilm morphology also differed from the structure typically observed under
continuous polarization. However, the underlying mechanisms are still to be unraveled. In this project we propose the study of charge storage capabilities of electro-active bacteria by integrating several techniques to understand biofilm growth kinetics and biochemical composition. These results will provide valuable information to control and optimize biofilms performances in BES.


Technological challenge

The main challenge will be the integration of different quantification and characterization methods to assess the biofilm development on the anode. Due to the limited number of in-situ techniques available to track biofilm growth kinetics and chemical composition, the integration of several optical and electrochemical approaches is essential to a better understanding of biofilm behavior and a more detailed biofilm analysis (Figure 1). By studying the effect of operational conditions on the biofilm development, a final inherent challenge will be the creation of knowledge to control biofilm growth kinetics towards better performances in BES.