|Electricity generation by direct oxidation of glucose in mediatorless microbial fuel cells.
|Year of Publication
|Chaudhuri SK, Lovley DR
|Bioelectric Energy Sources, Bioreactors, Carbon Dioxide, Comamonadaceae, Electrodes, Energy Transfer, Equipment Design, Equipment Failure Analysis, Glucose, Iron, Oxidation-Reduction
Abundant energy, stored primarily in the form of carbohydrates, can be found in waste biomass from agricultural, municipal and industrial sources as well as in dedicated energy crops, such as corn and other grains. Potential strategies for deriving useful forms of energy from carbohydrates include production of ethanol and conversion to hydrogen, but these approaches face technical and economic hurdles. An alternative strategy is direct conversion of sugars to electrical power. Existing transition metal-catalyzed fuel cells cannot be used to generate electric power from carbohydrates. Alternatively, biofuel cells in which whole cells or isolated redox enzymes catalyze the oxidation of the sugar have been developed, but their applicability has been limited by several factors, including (i) the need to add electron-shuttling compounds that mediate electron transfer from the cell to the anode, (ii) incomplete oxidation of the sugars and (iii) lack of long-term stability of the fuel cells. Here we report on a novel microorganism, Rhodoferax ferrireducens, that can oxidize glucose to CO(2) and quantitatively transfer electrons to graphite electrodes without the need for an electron-shuttling mediator. Growth is supported by energy derived from the electron transfer process itself and results in stable, long-term power production.