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Microbial electrochemical technologies with the perspective of harnessing bioenergy: Maneuvering towards upscaling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-476
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


Microbial electrochemical technologies have gained much attention in the recent years during which basic research has been carried out to provide proof of concept by utilizing microorganisms for generating bioenergy in an electro redox active environment. However, these bio-electrocatalyzed systems pose significant challenges towards up-scaling and practical applications. Various parameters viz., electrodes, materials, configuration, biocatalyst, reaction kinetics, fabrication and operational costs, resistance for electron transfer etc. will critically govern the performance of microbial catalyzed electrochemical systems. Majorly, the surface area of electrode materials, biofilm coverage on the electrode surface, enrichment of electrochemically active electrode respiring bacteria and reduction reactions at cathode will aid in increasing the reaction kinetics towards the upscaling of microbial electrochemical technologies. Enrichment of electroactive microbial community on anode electrode can be promoted with electrode pretreatment, controlled anode potential or electrical current, external resistance, optimal operation temperature, chemical additions and bioaugmentation. Inhibition of the growth of methanogens also increases the columbic efficiency, an essential parameter that determines the efficacy of bioelectricity generation. Considering the practical implementation of these microbial electrochemical technologies, the current review addresses the challenges and strategies to improve the performance of bio-electrocatalyzed systems with respect to the operational, physico-chemical and biological factors towards scale up. Besides, the feasibility for long term operation, the scope for future research along with the operational and maintenance costs are discussed to provide a broad spectrum on the role of the system components for the implementation of these bio-electrochemical technologies for practical utility.


  • Biocatalyst, Bioelectrochemical system, Electrode materials, Fuel celldesign, Microbial fuelcell

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