Set anode potentials affect the electron fluxes and microbial community structure in propionate-fed microbial electrolysis cells

Hari Ananda Rao, Krishna Katuri, Bruce E. Logan, Pascal Saikaly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Anode potential has been shown to be a critical factor in the rate of acetate removal in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), but studies with fermentable substrates and set potentials are lacking. Here, we examined the impact of three different set anode potentials (SAPs; −0.25, 0, and 0.25 V vs. standard hydrogen electrode) on the electrochemical performance, electron flux to various sinks, and anodic microbial community structure in two-chambered MECs fed with propionate. Electrical current (49–71%) and CH4 (22.9–41%) were the largest electron sinks regardless of the potentials tested. Among the three SAPs tested, 0 V showed the highest electron flux to electrical current (71 ± 5%) and the lowest flux to CH4 (22.9 ± 1.2%). In contrast, the SAP of −0.25 V had the lowest electron flux to current (49 ± 6%) and the highest flux to CH4 (41.1 ± 2%). The most dominant genera detected on the anode of all three SAPs based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing were Geobacter, Smithella and Syntrophobacter, but their relative abundance varied among the tested SAPs. Microbial community analysis implies that complete degradation of propionate in all the tested SAPs was facilitated by syntrophic interactions between fermenters and Geobacter at the anode and ferementers and hydrogenotrophic methanogens in suspension.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 9 2016

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