In response to global environmental concerns and energy insecurity, there has been increasing interest in alternative non-polluting, renewable and sustainable sources of energy. Bioelectrochemical systems (BES’s) such as microbial fuel cells (MFC’s) and microbial electrolysis cells (MEC’s) have recently emerged as a promising technology to produce bioenergy and bioproducts from wastewater (Fig 1&2).
BES relies on electrochemically active bacteria and their capacity of extracellular electron transfer (EET) to/from the electrode. So far, two mechanisms for EET are known:
- Direct electron transfer via membrane bound cytochromes or conductive pili
- Indirect electron transfer via added or secreted mediators
The challenge of current BES studies is to increase the efficiency i.e production of higher electrical power density in MFC’s and higher concentration of desired bioproducts in MEC’s. Considering the central role of microbial catalysts in BES systems, understanding key microbial players in bioanode/biocathode and their physiological function in EET mechanisms can assist us in unraveling and steering their behavior in BES’s to achieve aforementioned goals. To this end we will:
- Analyze microbial communities active in BES
- Isolate the key players from the bioanode/biocathode compartment in MFC/MEC
- Apply genomic and proteomic analysis to identify key enzymes/proteins involved in EET
This project is in cooperation with wetsus research. Follow this link for more research projects on resource recovery at wetsus.