Analysis of the microbial community of the biocathode of a hydrogen-producing microbial electrolysis cell

E. Croese, M.A. Pereira, G.J.W. Euverink, A.J.M. Stams, J.S. Geelhoed

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107 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) is a promising system for hydrogen production. Still, expensive catalysts such as platinum are needed for efficient hydrogen evolution at the cathode. Recently, the possibility to use a biocathode as an alternative for platinum was shown. The microorganisms involved in hydrogen evolution in such systems are not yet identified. We analyzed the microbial community of a mixed culture biocathode that was enriched in an MEC bioanode. This biocathode produced 1.1 A m(-2) and 0.63 m3 H2 m(-3) cathode liquid volume per day. The bacterial population consisted of 46% Proteobacteria, 25% Firmicutes, 17% Bacteroidetes, and 12% related to other phyla. The dominant ribotype belonged to the species Desulfovibrio vulgaris. The second major ribotype cluster constituted a novel taxonomic group at the genus level, clustering within uncultured Firmicutes. The third cluster belonged to uncultured Bacteroidetes and grouped in a taxonomic group from which only clones were described before; most of these clones originated from soil samples. The identified novel taxonomic groups developed under environmentally unusual conditions, and this may point to properties that have not been considered before. A pure culture of Desulfovibrio strain G11 inoculated in a cathode of an MEC led to a current development from 0.17 to 0.76 A m(-2) in 9 days, and hydrogen gas formation was observed. On the basis of the known characteristics of Desulfovibrio spp., including its ability to produce hydrogen, we propose a mechanism for hydrogen evolution through Desulfovibrio spp. in a biocathode system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1083-1093
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Volume92
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • desulfovibrio-vulgaris hildenborough
  • geobacter-sulfurreducens
  • fuel-cells
  • exchange membranes
  • oxide reduction
  • gene-expression
  • organic-matter
  • sequence data
  • electrodes
  • electricity

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