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Since no known microbial strain performs this complete conversion by itself, this complementary pairing of cellulolytic and exoelectrogenic activities is currently necessary for electricity production from cellulose

Electricity production from cellulose in a microbial fuel cell using a defined binary culture.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, no. 13 (2007): 4781-4786

Cited by: 307|Views39
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Abstract

Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) convert biodegradable materials into electricity, potentially contributing to an array of renewable energy production strategies tailored for specific applications. Since there are no known microorganisms that can both metabolize cellulose and transfer electrons to solid extracellular substrates, the conversion...More

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Introduction
  • The concerns of global fossil fuel depletion and environmental pollution from fossil fuel combustion are driving the search for carbon-neutral, renewable energy alternatives.
  • Unlike chemical or enzyme-based fuel cells, which are tailored to oxidize specific electron donors, MFCs have tremendous electron donor versatility.
  • This includes simple substrates such as glucose, acetate, and lactate [9,10,11]; complex substrates such as municipal and industrial wastewaters [12, 13]; and even steam-exploded corn stover hydrolysate [14].
  • MFCs can be configured to produce hydrogen instead of electricity using an anaerobic cathode and a small applied voltage to reduce protons in the cathode chamber [15], thereby providing an approach for overcoming the 4 mol H2/mol hexose constraint of fermentation
Highlights
  • The concerns of global fossil fuel depletion and environmental pollution from fossil fuel combustion are driving the search for carbon-neutral, renewable energy alternatives
  • Upon transferring the anode from microbial fuel cells (MFCs)-1 into MFC-2, the power density rapidly increased to 151 mW/m2 (Figure 1A) as G. sulfurrecellulose degradation (%) Coulombic efficiencyb (%)
  • Since no known microbial strain performs this complete conversion by itself, this complementary pairing of cellulolytic and exoelectrogenic activities is currently necessary for electricity production from cellulose
  • It has been proposed that this coupling of fermentation with anaerobic respiration has a thermodynamic advantage over complete anaerobic oxidation of a fermentable substrate by a single microbe, based on the energy yield per electron transferred in the respective reactions [17, 25]. This is consistent with the finding that the majority of glucose was fermented in Fe(III)-reducing sediments instead of being directly oxidized to CO2 with Fe(III) oxide as the electron acceptor [26], even though a glucoseoxidizing iron reducer has subsequently been isolated from this environment [16]
  • A consortium of cellulolytic fermenters and electrochemically active bacteria might have a competitive advantage over a hypothetical cellulolytic exoelectrogen
Methods
  • The media used for the two strains had identical components except for the electron donor and electron acceptor.
  • Both media contained 1.05 g of NH4Cl, 1.5 g of KH2PO4, 2.9 g of K2HPO4‚ 3H2O, 0.2 g of MgCl2‚6H2O, 0.075 g of CaCl2‚2H2O, 10 mL of trace mineral mix, and 10 mL of vitamin mix [20].
  • Activated sludge was obtained from the Pennsylvania State University Wastewater Treatment Plant and was stored at 4 °C until inoculation into MFCs
Results
  • Upon transferring the anode from MFC-1 into MFC-2, the power density rapidly increased to 151 mW/m2 (Figure 1A) as G. sulfurre-
Conclusion
  • The binary culture of C. cellulolyticum and G. sulfurreducens converted cellulose into electricity, without enzymatic pretreatment or an exogenous catalyst.
  • It has been proposed that this coupling of fermentation with anaerobic respiration has a thermodynamic advantage over complete anaerobic oxidation of a fermentable substrate by a single microbe, based on the energy yield per electron transferred in the respective reactions [17, 25].
  • A consortium of cellulolytic fermenters and electrochemically active bacteria might have a competitive advantage over a hypothetical cellulolytic exoelectrogen
Tables
  • Table1: Summary of Substrate Degradation and Electron Recovery parameter
Download tables as Excel
Funding
  • This work was supported by a grant from the U.S Department of Agriculture (68-3A75-3-150)
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