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A Gibbs free energy based assessment of microbial electrocatalysis

Author:
Gildemyna, Sylvia, Rozendal, René A, Rabaey, Korneel
Source:
Trends in biotechnology 2017
ISSN:
0167-7799
Subject:
Gibbs free energy, biomass production, bioremediation, catalysts, electrochemistry, electrodes, hydrogen production, prediction
Abstract:
The use of microbial catalysts for electrode reactions enables novel bioremediation and bioproduction processes. To understand the electrochemical performance of the electrode reactions, understanding their thermodynamics is essential. We elaborate here on the Growth Reference System, simplifying thermodynamic calculations in the aforementioned context to, for example, demonstrate that cathodic bioprocesses generally suffer from higher overpotentials than anodic processes. Abiotic hydrogen production cannot be thermodynamically excluded for any of the cathodic microbial electrosynthesis processes described thus far. Predictions for maximum biomass production correlated to electron flow are in line with experimental observations. We include a comprehensive set of thermodynamic and electrochemical data to support calculations relevant to the field of microbial electrocatalysis.
Agid:
5632418