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Fundamental processes involved in scale up and their role in extracellular electron transfer

EMSL Project ID


Our research group use microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as a tool to study electron transfer processes from biofilms to solid electrodes. Although MFCs have been well studied in the literature, fundamental issues related to their practical application (scale up) have not been solved yet. When the electrode size increases, current density of the anode (biofilms that deliver electrons to the solid electrodes) does not remain constant. To our best knowledge, there has not been any systematic fundamental research investigating why anodic biofilms in MFCs do not scale up that focuses on extracellular electron transfer mechanisms as the cause. This knowledge can also be used to understand how microbes on the subsurface interact with minerals in large scale. The goal of this proposal is to investigate the scaling up of anodic biofilms at the fundamental level, extracellular electron transfer. Focusing on extracellular electron transfer will allow us to understand the local current distributions as the electrode size is increased and increase the practical applications of MFCs. Our research group has been recently awarded to study fundamental processes of extracellular electron transfer in biofilms related to scale up of MFCs by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). This proposal requests various EMSL equipment time (NMR, CryoTEM, nano-DESI) to enhance our ONR supported research and provide data which can also be used for DOE research related to microbe-mineral interactions at interfaces.

Project Details

Project type
Large-Scale EMSL Research
Start Date
End Date


Principal Investigator

Haluk Beyenal
Washington State University

Team Members

Jerome Babauta
Washington State University

Ryan Renslow
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory