Recent advances and emerging challenges in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) for microbial production of hydrogen and value-added chemicals

Abudukeremu Kadier, Mohd. Sahaid Kalil, Peyman Abdeshahian, K. Chandrasekhar, Azah Mohamed, Nadia Farhana Azman, Washington Logroño, Yibadatihan Simayi, Aidil Abdul Hamid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) is a potentially attractive green technology to tackle the global warming energy crisis, which employs electrochemically active bacteria to convert organic matter into hydrogen or a wide range of chemicals, such as methane, acetate, hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and formic acid, without causing environmental pollution. Until now, probably the cleanest and the most efficient method of producing hydrogen has been MEC. However, this technology is still in its infancy period and poses various challenges towards up-scaling and widespread applications, such as such as lower hydrogen production rate (HPR), high internal resistance, complicated architecture, and expensive materials. New advances are needed in biofilm engineering, materials for electrodes and reactor configuration for successful real-world application of this technology. Thus, the present review deals with development of practical MEC technology and includes the following sections: firstly a general introduction to MECs; their operating principles, thermodynamics of MEC, and energy or voltage losses in the MEC system were provided. Followed by a section on the critical factors affecting MEC performance; microorganisms, anode, cathode, membrane or separator, fuel sources, the state-of-art MECs designs, other key operational factors, and its potential application in microbial production of value added products are discussed in detail. Afterwards, current challenges involved in developing practical MEC systems are highlighted, and outlooks for future development are also suggested. The review aims to assist researcher and engineers to gain fundamental understandings of MEC, and it also provides several future research directions and a road map on how to overcome the barriers, so the MEC technology can be further advanced and applied in larger scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-525
Number of pages25
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Volume61
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016

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Regenerative fuel cells
Hydrogen
Environmental technology
Formic acid
Biofilms
Global warming
Hydrogen production
Separators
Hydrogen peroxide
Microorganisms
Biological materials

Keywords

  • Cathode catalysts
  • Energy efficiency
  • Exoelectrogens
  • Hydrogen productionrate(HPR)
  • Hydrogen recovery
  • Hydrogenproduction
  • Microbial electrolysis cell(MEC)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Cite this

Recent advances and emerging challenges in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) for microbial production of hydrogen and value-added chemicals. / Kadier, Abudukeremu; Kalil, Mohd. Sahaid; Abdeshahian, Peyman; Chandrasekhar, K.; Mohamed, Azah; Azman, Nadia Farhana; Logroño, Washington; Simayi, Yibadatihan; Abdul Hamid, Aidil.

In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol. 61, 01.08.2016, p. 501-525.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kadier, Abudukeremu ; Kalil, Mohd. Sahaid ; Abdeshahian, Peyman ; Chandrasekhar, K. ; Mohamed, Azah ; Azman, Nadia Farhana ; Logroño, Washington ; Simayi, Yibadatihan ; Abdul Hamid, Aidil. / Recent advances and emerging challenges in microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) for microbial production of hydrogen and value-added chemicals. In: Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2016 ; Vol. 61. pp. 501-525.
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AB - Microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) is a potentially attractive green technology to tackle the global warming energy crisis, which employs electrochemically active bacteria to convert organic matter into hydrogen or a wide range of chemicals, such as methane, acetate, hydrogen peroxide, ethanol, and formic acid, without causing environmental pollution. Until now, probably the cleanest and the most efficient method of producing hydrogen has been MEC. However, this technology is still in its infancy period and poses various challenges towards up-scaling and widespread applications, such as such as lower hydrogen production rate (HPR), high internal resistance, complicated architecture, and expensive materials. New advances are needed in biofilm engineering, materials for electrodes and reactor configuration for successful real-world application of this technology. Thus, the present review deals with development of practical MEC technology and includes the following sections: firstly a general introduction to MECs; their operating principles, thermodynamics of MEC, and energy or voltage losses in the MEC system were provided. Followed by a section on the critical factors affecting MEC performance; microorganisms, anode, cathode, membrane or separator, fuel sources, the state-of-art MECs designs, other key operational factors, and its potential application in microbial production of value added products are discussed in detail. Afterwards, current challenges involved in developing practical MEC systems are highlighted, and outlooks for future development are also suggested. The review aims to assist researcher and engineers to gain fundamental understandings of MEC, and it also provides several future research directions and a road map on how to overcome the barriers, so the MEC technology can be further advanced and applied in larger scale.

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