A method for high throughput bioelectrochemical research based on small scale microbial electrolysis cells

Douglas F. Call, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


There is great interest in studying exoelectrogenic microorganisms, but existing methods can require expensive electrochemical equipment and specialized reactors. We developed a simple system for conducting high throughput bioelectrochemical research using multiple inexpensive microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) built with commercially available materials and operated using a single power source. MECs were small crimp top serum bottles (5mL) with a graphite plate anode (92m 2/m 3) and a cathode of stainless steel (SS) mesh (86m 2/m 3), graphite plate, SS wire, or platinum wire. The highest volumetric current density (240A/m 3, applied potential of 0.7V) was obtained using a SS mesh cathode and a wastewater inoculum (acetate electron donor). Parallel operated MECs (single power source) did not lead to differences in performance compared to non-parallel operated MECs, which can allow for high throughput reactor operation (>1000 reactors) using a single power supply. The utility of this method for cultivating exoelectrogenic microorganisms was demonstrated through comparison of buffer effects on pure (Geobacter sulfurreducens and Geobacter metallireducens) and mixed cultures. Mixed cultures produced current densities equal to or higher than pure cultures in the different media, and current densities for all cultures were higher using a 50mM phosphate buffer than a 30mM bicarbonate buffer. Only the mixed culture was capable of sustained current generation with a 200mM phosphate buffer. These results demonstrate the usefulness of this inexpensive method for conducting in-depth examinations of pure and mixed exoelectrogenic cultures. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4526-4531
Number of pages6
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KUS-I1-003-13
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, the National Water Research Institute Ronald B. Linsky Fellowship, and award KUS-I1-003-13 from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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