Continuous electron shuttling by sulfide oxidizing bacteria as a novel strategy to produce electric current

Rieks de Rink, Micaela B. Lavender, Dandan Liu, Johannes B.M. Klok, Dimitry Y. Sorokin, Annemiek ter Heijne*, Cees J.N. Buisman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfide oxidizing bacteria (SOB) are widely applied in industry to convert toxic H2S into elemental sulfur. Haloalkaliphilic planktonic SOB can remove sulfide from solution under anaerobic conditions (SOB are ‘charged’), and release electrons at an electrode (discharge of SOB). The effect of this electron shuttling on product formation and biomass growth is not known. Here, we study and demonstrate a continuous process in which SOB remove sulfide from solution in an anaerobic ‘uptake chamber’, and shuttle these electrons to the anode of an electrochemical cell, in the absence of dissolved sulfide. Two experiments over 31 and 41 days were performed. At a sulfide loading rate of 1.1 mmolS/day, electricity was produced continuously (3 A/m2) without dissolved sulfide in the anolyte. The main end product was sulfate (56% in experiment 1% and 78% in experiment 2), and 87% and 77% of the electrons in sulfide were recovered as electricity. It was found that the current density was dependent on the sulfide loading rate and not on the anode potential. Biological growth occurred, mainly at the anode as biofilm, in which the deltaproteobacterial genus Desulfurivibrio was dominating. Our results demonstrate a novel strategy to produce electricity from sulfide in an electrochemical system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127358
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Bio-anode
  • Bioelectrochemistry
  • Microbial electrochemical system
  • Sulfide oxidizing bacteria (SOB)
  • Sulfide removal


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