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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2010 Feb;85(6):1673-85. doi: 10.1007/s00253-009-2357-1. Epub 2009 Dec 19.

New applications and performance of bioelectrochemical systems.

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Sub-Department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University, Bomenweg 2, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) are emerging technologies which use microorganisms to catalyze the reactions at the anode and/or cathode. BES research is advancing rapidly, and a whole range of applications using different electron donors and acceptors has already been developed. In this mini review, we focus on technological aspects of the expanding application of BESs. We will analyze the anode and cathode half-reactions in terms of their standard and actual potential and report the overpotentials of these half-reactions by comparing the reported potentials with their theoretical potentials. When combining anodes with cathodes in a BES, new bottlenecks and opportunities arise. For application of BESs, it is crucial to lower the internal energy losses and increase productivity at the same time. Membranes are a crucial element to obtain high efficiencies and pure products but increase the internal resistance of BESs. The comparison between production of fuels and chemicals in BESs and in present production processes should gain more attention in future BES research. By making this comparison, it will become clear if the scope of BESs can and should be further developed into the field of biorefineries.

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