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The effect of flavin electron shuttles in microbial fuel cells current production

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sharon Velasquez OrtaORCiD, Professor Ian Head, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott


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The effect of electron shuttles on electron transfer to microbial fuel cell (MFC) anodes was studied in systems where direct contact with the anode was precluded. MFCs were inoculated with Shewanella cells, and flavins used as the electron shuttling compound. In MFCs with no added electron shuttles, flavin concentrations monitored in the MFCs' bulk liquid increased continuously with FMN as the predominant flavin. The maximum concentrations were 0.6 μM for flavin mononucleotide and 0.2 μM for riboflavin. In MFCs with added flavins, micro-molar concentrations were shown to increase current and power output. The peak current was at least four times higher in MFCs with high concentrations of flavins (4.5–5.5 μM) than in MFCs with low concentrations (0.2–0.6 μM). Although high power outputs (around 150 mW/m2) were achieved in MFCs with high concentrations of flavins, a Clostridium-like bacterium along with other reactor limitations affected overall coulombic efficiencies (CE) obtained, achieving a maximum CE of 13%. Electron shuttle compounds (flavins) permitted bacteria to utilise a remote electron acceptor (anode) that was not accessible to the cells allowing current production until the electron donor (lactate) was consumed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Velasquez-Orta SB, Head IM, Curtis TP, Scott K, Lloyd JR, von Canstein H

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Year: 2010

Volume: 85

Issue: 5

Pages: 1373-1381

ISSN (print): 0099-2240

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5336

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1007/s00253-009-2172-8


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Funder referenceFunder name
Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme in Newcastle University
196298Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT)
BBS/B/03718Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)