Research Topic

Recent Progress and Breakthroughs in Bioelectrochemical Systems (BESs)

About this Research Topic

Global sustainable development requires development of innovative and money-saving energy and environmental technologies for harnessing energy from wastes and wastewater, and alternatively capturing this energy to make other value-added chemicals and fuels. With existing technology, waste, and wastewater treatment is energy consuming.

Recently developed bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) that use microorganisms to catalyze various biological and electrochemical reactions are promising for waste and wastewater treatment along with sustainable bioenergy generation including bioelectricity, bio-hydrogen or other useful chemicals. Compared to conventional fuel cells, BESs operate in relatively mild conditions and, utilize a wide variety of organic or inorganic substrates, wastewaters, renewable biomass. What’s more, BESs do not need expensive precious metal anodes, while employing bacteria as catalysts.

Subject to the configuration and method of application, BESs can be classified as microbial fuel cells (MFCs), microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), microbial desalination cells (MDCs) and, microbial solar cells (MSCs). MFCs are devices that use microbes as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate bioelectricity at the cathode. MECs are novel biotechnological tools, which employ bacteria to convert organic matter into biohydrogen or a wide range of chemicals, such as methane (CH4), acetate, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ethanol, and formic acid. MDCs are the newly developed process, which use bioelectric potential produced from organic substrates through microbial metabolism to accomplish water desalination and MDCs consist of three major compartments, the anode, the cathode, and a salt compartment. MSCs use photosynthetic bacteria or higher plants (photoautotrophs) to harvest solar energy and use electrochemically active microorganisms in the BESs to generate electrical current or value-added products like H2, CH4, ethanol, H2O2 etc. This multifaceted application of BESs has been attracting a strongly increasing number of researchers across the world.

This Research Topic will focus on emerging scientific progressions pertaining to all types of BESs and welcomes original research papers, review/mini-review papers, book reviews, short communications, and case reports/case studies on the following aspects:

• BESs reactor configurations and design
• Electrode - anode and cathode materials
• Substrates/feedstock
• Microbial community analysis
• Electron transfer mechanism/pathways
• Operational/microbial/materials Optimization
• Process efficiency
• Downstream processing
• Product separation and recovery
• Life-cycle and techno-economic analysis
• Integrated technologies


Keywords: Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs), Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), Microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), Microbial desalination cell (MDC), Microbial solar cell (MSC)


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.

Global sustainable development requires development of innovative and money-saving energy and environmental technologies for harnessing energy from wastes and wastewater, and alternatively capturing this energy to make other value-added chemicals and fuels. With existing technology, waste, and wastewater treatment is energy consuming.

Recently developed bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) that use microorganisms to catalyze various biological and electrochemical reactions are promising for waste and wastewater treatment along with sustainable bioenergy generation including bioelectricity, bio-hydrogen or other useful chemicals. Compared to conventional fuel cells, BESs operate in relatively mild conditions and, utilize a wide variety of organic or inorganic substrates, wastewaters, renewable biomass. What’s more, BESs do not need expensive precious metal anodes, while employing bacteria as catalysts.

Subject to the configuration and method of application, BESs can be classified as microbial fuel cells (MFCs), microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), microbial desalination cells (MDCs) and, microbial solar cells (MSCs). MFCs are devices that use microbes as the catalysts to oxidize organic and inorganic matter and generate bioelectricity at the cathode. MECs are novel biotechnological tools, which employ bacteria to convert organic matter into biohydrogen or a wide range of chemicals, such as methane (CH4), acetate, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), ethanol, and formic acid. MDCs are the newly developed process, which use bioelectric potential produced from organic substrates through microbial metabolism to accomplish water desalination and MDCs consist of three major compartments, the anode, the cathode, and a salt compartment. MSCs use photosynthetic bacteria or higher plants (photoautotrophs) to harvest solar energy and use electrochemically active microorganisms in the BESs to generate electrical current or value-added products like H2, CH4, ethanol, H2O2 etc. This multifaceted application of BESs has been attracting a strongly increasing number of researchers across the world.

This Research Topic will focus on emerging scientific progressions pertaining to all types of BESs and welcomes original research papers, review/mini-review papers, book reviews, short communications, and case reports/case studies on the following aspects:

• BESs reactor configurations and design
• Electrode - anode and cathode materials
• Substrates/feedstock
• Microbial community analysis
• Electron transfer mechanism/pathways
• Operational/microbial/materials Optimization
• Process efficiency
• Downstream processing
• Product separation and recovery
• Life-cycle and techno-economic analysis
• Integrated technologies


Keywords: Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs), Microbial fuel cells (MFCs), Microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), Microbial desalination cell (MDC), Microbial solar cell (MSC)


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.

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Submission Deadlines

25 March 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

25 March 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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