About this Research Topic
Microbial electrochemical technology (MET) is an emerging technology that contributes to addressing the global energy and climate crises by employing microbe-electrode electron exchange. MET can synergistically combine the strengths of biocatalysts and synthetic electrodes to use the power of the microbial metabolism to develop a broad range of practical applications from bioenergy and bioelectronics to bioremediation. The electroactive microbes act as ’living biocatalysts‘ in microbial electrogenesis and microbial electrosynthesis (MES) for generating electricity or producing chemicals/fuels from waste-carbon, respectively. The uniqueness of these microbial biocatalysts is their self-healing capacity and tolerance to environmental perturbations. In microbial electrogenesis, electroactive microbes oxidize organic and inorganic matters in wastewaters and transfer the metabolically generated electrons to the electrode, thus producing electricity. MES is a process in which certain microbes are able to take up electrons from a negatively charged electrode (electron donor) and use these electrons to reduce carbon dioxide (electron acceptor) or organic wastes (electro-fermentation) to high-value chemicals (for example, short and medium-chain carboxylic acids) and fuels (methane, alcohols). If sunlight is used as the external energy supply for the MES process, it mimics natural photosynthesis where the microbes serve as ’artificial leaves‘. Another possible niche of METs is electro bioremediation of polluted waters and soils. METs can operate over long time periods, minimizing energy or chemical input.
The development of MET is perennially plagued by low power output and/or volumetric productivity. One limitation arises from the imperfect integration of microbes with electrode materials. The nexus of breakthroughs, therefore, lies in the biological-electrode interface. This Research Topic falls in the scope of microbial electrochemistry and artificial photosynthesis and will be of interest for scientists working in microbiology, electrochemistry, synthetic biology, chemical engineering, environmental science, and energy materials.
This multidisciplinary Research Topic aims to showcase recent trends in METs for the production of energy, chemicals/biofuels from waste-carbon, and microbial electrochemistry for bioremediation. We invite contributions in the form of reviews, perspectives, and original research on the topics covering microbial electrochemical technologies in the following fields (but not limited to):
• Characterization of novel microbes for METs
• Molecular mechanisms involved in microbial electrogenesis and microbial electrosynthesis/electro-fermentation or electro-bioremediation
• Advanced electrode materials for MET applications
• Electro-bioremediation of polluted waters/soils.
Keywords: microbial electrogenesis, microbial electrosynthesis, electro-bioremediation, artificial photosynthesis, synthetic biology, electro-microbiology
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.