Microbial Electrolysis Cells for High Yield Hydrogen Gas Production from Organic Matter

Bruce E. Logan, Douglas Call, Shaoan Cheng, Hubertus V. M. Hamelers, Tom H. J. A. Sleutels, Adriaan W. Jeremiasse, René A. Rozendal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1073 Scopus citations


The use of electrochemically active bacteria to break down organic matter, combined with the addition of a small voltage (>0.2 V in practice) in specially designed microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), can result in a high yield of hydrogen gas. While microbial electrolysis was invented only a few years ago, rapid developments have led to hydrogen yields approaching 100%, energy yields based on electrical energy input many times greater than that possible by water electrolysis, and increased gas production rates. MECs used to make hydrogen gas are similar in design to microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that produce electricity, but there are important differences in architecture and analytical methods used to evaluate performance. We review here the materials, architectures, performance, and energy efficiencies of these MEC systems that show promise as a method for renewable and sustainable energy production, and wastewater treatment. © 2008 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8630-8640
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This review was supported by the following: the National Science Foundation (CBET-0730359) and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (B.E.L); the KAUST Global Research Partnership (BEL and S.C.); a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and the National Water Research Institute Ronald B. Linsky Fellowship (D.C.); SenterNovem (NEO Grant 0268-03-04-04-002) and the Australian Research Council (DP 0666927) (R-A.R). Wetsus is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the city of Leeuwarden, the Province of Fryslan, the European Union European Regional Development Fund, and the EZ-KOMPAS Program of the "Samenwerkingsverband Noord/Nederland". We thank the participants of the theme "Hydrogen" for their input and contributions: Shell, Paques by, and Magneto Special Anodes by.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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