Optimal Set Anode Potentials Vary in Bioelectrochemical Systems


Wagner, Rachel C.
Call, Douglas F.
Logan, Bruce E.

KAUST Grant Number


In bioelectrochemical systems (BESs), the anode potential can be set to a fixed voltage using a potentiostat, but there is no accepted method for defining an optimal potential. Microbes can theoretically gain more energy by reducing a terminal electron acceptor with a more positive potential, for example oxygen compared to nitrate. Therefore, more positive anode potentials should allow microbes to gain more energy per electron transferred than a lower potential, but this can only occur if the microbe has metabolic pathways capable of capturing the available energy. Our review of the literature shows that there is a general trend of improved performance using more positive potentials, but there are several notable cases where biofilm growth and current generation improved or only occurred at more negative potentials. This suggests that even with diverse microbial communities, it is primarily the potential of the terminal respiratory proteins used by certain exoelectrogenic bacteria, and to a lesser extent the anode potential, that determines the optimal growth conditions in the reactor. Our analysis suggests that additional bioelectrochemical investigations of both pure and mixed cultures, over a wide range of potentials, are needed to better understand how to set and evaluate optimal anode potentials for improving BES performance. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

Wagner RC, Call DF, Logan BE (2010) Optimal Set Anode Potentials Vary in Bioelectrochemical Systems. Environ Sci Technol 44: 6036–6041. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es101013e.

The authors thank Dr. Matthew D Merrill for his help in reference electrode calibration and analysis and Dr Justin Tokash for assistance with electrochemical analyses This material is based upon work supported under National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (R.C.W. and D F C.), the National Water Research Institute Ronald B. Linsky Fellowship (D.F.C.), and award KUS-11-003-13 by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

American Chemical Society (ACS)

Environmental Science & Technology


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