Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The effect of anode potential on current production from complex substrates in bioelectrochemical systems: a case study with glucose

Lookup NU author(s): Fei Zhao, Dr Elizabeth Heidrich, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Dr Jan DolfingORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Anode potential can affect the degradation pathway of complex substrates in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs), thereby influencing current production and coulombic efficiency. However, the intricacies behind this interplay are poorly understood. This study used glucose as a model substrate to comprehensively investigate the effect of different anode potentials (− 150 mV, 0 mV and + 200 mV) on the relationship between current production, the electrogenic pathway and the abundance of the electrogenic microorganisms involved in batch mode fed BESs. Current production in glucose-acclimatized reactors was a function of the abundance of Geobacteraceae and of the availability of acetate and formate produced by glucose degradation. Current production was increased by high anode potentials during acclimation (0 mV and + 200 mV), likely due to more Geobacteraceae developing. However, this effect was much weaker than a stimulus from an artificial high acetate supply: acetate was the rate-limiting intermediate in these systems. The supply of acetate could not be influenced by anode potential; altering the flow regime, batch time and management of the upstream fermentation processes may be a greater engineering tool in BES. However, these findings suggest that if high current production is the focus, it will be extremely difficult to achieve success with complex waste streams such as domestic wastewater.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhao F, Heidrich ES, Curtis TP, Dolfing J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

Year: 2020

Volume: 104

Pages: 5133-5143

Print publication date: 01/06/2020

Online publication date: 04/04/2020

Acceptance date: 15/03/2020

Date deposited: 30/11/2020

ISSN (print): 0175-7598

ISSN (electronic): 1432-0614

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00253-020-10547-6


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric