Microbial electrolysis cell with a microbial biocathode

A.W. Jeremiasse, H.V.M. Hamelers, C.J.N. Buisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


This study demonstrates, for the first time, the proof-of-principle of an MEC in which both the anodic and cathodic reaction are catalyzed by microorganisms No expensive chemical catalysts, such as platinum, are needed Two of these MECs were simultaneously operated and reached a maximum of 1 4 A/m(2) at an applied cell voltage of 05 V At a cathode potential of 07 V. the biocathode in the MECs had a higher current density (MEC 1.1.9 A/m(2), MEC 2 3.3 A/m(2)) than a control cathode (0 3 A/m(2), graphite felt without biofilm) in an electrochemical half cell. This indicates that hydrogen production is catalyzed at the biocathode, likely by electrochemically active microorganisms The cathodic hydrogen recovery was 17% for MEC 1 and 21% for MEC 2 Hydrogen losses were ascribed to diffusion through membrane and tubing, and methane formation After 1600 h of operation, the current density of the MECs had decreased to 06 A/m(2), probably caused by precipitation of calcium phosphate on the biocathode The slow deteriorating effect of calcium phosphate, and the production of methane show the importance of studying the combination of bioanode and biocathode in one electrochemical cell, and of studying long term performance of such an MEC (C) 2009 Elsevier B V All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-43
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • biocatalyzed electrolysis
  • hydrogen-production
  • performance
  • membrane
  • acetate
  • water

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