Bringing High-Rate, CO2-Based Microbial Electrosynthesis Closer to Practical Implementation through Improved Electrode Design and Operating Conditions

Ludovic Jourdin*, Stefano Freguia, Victoria Flexer, Jurg Keller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The enhancement of microbial electrosynthesis (MES) of acetate from CO2 to performance levels that could potentially support practical implementations of the technology must go through the optimization of key design and operating conditions. We report that higher proton availability drastically increases the acetate production rate, with pH 5.2 found to be optimal, which will likely suppress methanogenic activity without inhibitor addition. Applied cathode potential as low as -1.1 V versus SHE still achieved 99% of electron recovery in the form of acetate at a current density of around -200 A m-2. These current densities are leading to an exceptional acetate production rate of up to 1330 g m-2 day-1 at pH 6.7. Using highly open macroporous reticulated vitreous carbon electrodes with macropore sizes of about 0.6 mm in diameter was found to be optimal for achieving a good balance between total surface area available for biofilm formation and effective mass transfer between the bulk liquid and the electrode and biofilm surface. Furthermore, we also successfully demonstrated the use of a synthetic biogas mixture as carbon dioxide source, yielding similarly high MES performance as pure CO2. This would allow this process to be used effectively for both biogas quality improvement and conversion of the available CO2 to acetate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-1989
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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