Enrichment of microbial community generating electricity using a fuel-cell-type electrochemical cell
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A fuel cell was used to enrich a microbial consortium generating electricity, using organic wastewater as the fuel. Within 30 days of enrichment the maximum current of 0.2 mA was generated with a resistance of 1 kΩ. Current generation was coupled to a fall in chemical oxygen demand from over 1,700 mg l−1 down to 50 mg l−1. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis showed a different microbial population in the enriched electrode from that in the sludge used as the inoculum. Electron microscopic observation showed a biofilm on the electrode surface and microbial clumps. Nanobacteria-like particles were present on the biofilm surface. Metabolic inhibitors and electron acceptors inhibited the current generation. 16S ribosomal RNA gene analysis showed a diverse bacterial population in the enrichment culture. These findings demonstrate that an electricity-generating microbial consortium can be enriched using a fuel cell and that the electrochemical activity is a form of anaerobic electron transfer.
This study was supported by a grant from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and The Ministry of Science and Technology (Evaluation and Planning under the National Research Laboratory Program) in Korea. Parts of this paper have been presented at the 98th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (poster number I-12).
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