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Biotechnology Advances
Vol. 36 (4), 20
18, Pages: 1316-1327

Microbial fuel cell (MFC) power performance improvement through enhanced microbial electrogenicity

Ming Lia, Minghua Zhoua, Xiaoyu Tiana, Chaolin Tana, Cameron T. McDanielb, Daniel J. Hassettb, Tingyue Gu

Key Laboratory of Pollution Process and Environmental Criteria, Ministry of Education, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Urban Ecology Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, Tianjin Advanced Water Treatment Technology International Joint Research Center, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, PR China.


Within the past 5 years, tremendous advances have been made to maximize the performance of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for both “clean” bioenergy production and bioremediation. Most research efforts have focused on parameters including (i) optimizing reactor configuration, (ii) electrode construction, (iii) addition of redox-active, electron donating mediators, (iv) biofilm acclimation and feed nutrient adjustment, as well as (v) other parameters that contribute to enhanced MFC performance. To date, tremendous advances have been made, but further improvements are needed for MFCs to be economically practical. In this review, the diversity of electrogenic microorganisms and microbial community changes in mixed cultures are discussed. More importantly, different approaches including chemical/genetic modifications and gene regulation of exoelectrogens, synthetic biology approaches and bacterial community cooperation are reviewed. Advances in recent years in metagenomics and microbiomes have allowed researchers to improve bacterial electrogenicity of robust biofilms in MFCs using novel, unconventional approaches. Taken together, this review provides some important and timely information to researchers who are examining additional means to enhance power production of MFCs.

Keywords: Microbial fuel cell; Electrogenic microorganism; Microbial community; Biofilm; Synthetic biology.

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