Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 855–863 | Cite as

A modeling approach to direct interspecies electron transfer process in anaerobic transformation of ethanol to methane

  • Yiwen Liu
  • Yaobin Zhang
  • Zhiqiang Zhao
  • Huu Hao NgoEmail author
  • Wenshan Guo
  • Junliang Zhou
  • Lai Peng
  • Bing-Jie NiEmail author
Research Article


Recent studies have shown that direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) plays an important part in contributing to methane production from anaerobic digestion. However, so far anaerobic digestion models that have been proposed only consider two pathways for methane production, namely, acetoclastic methanogenesis and hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, via indirect interspecies hydrogen transfer, which lacks an effective way for incorporating DIET into this paradigm. In this work, a new mathematical model is specifically developed to describe DIET process in anaerobic digestion through introducing extracellular electron transfer as a new pathway for methane production, taking anaerobic transformation of ethanol to methane as an example. The developed model was able to successfully predict experimental data on methane dynamics under different experimental conditions, supporting the validity of the developed model. Modeling predictions clearly demonstrated that DIET plays an important role in contributing to overall methane production (up to 33 %) and conductive material (i.e., carbon cloth) addition would significantly promote DIET through increasing ethanol conversion rate and methane production rate. The model developed in this work will potentially enhance our current understanding on syntrophic metabolism via DIET.


Direct interspecies electron transfer (DIET) Anaerobic digestion Ethanol Methane production Syntrophy Mathematical model 



This work was supported by the Recruitment Program of Global Experts and the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51578391). Yiwen Liu acknowledges the support from the UTS Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. The authors are grateful to research collaboration among University of Technology Sydney, Dalian University of Technology, and Tongji University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater, School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Industrial Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Ministry of Education, School of Environmental Science and TechnologyDalian University of TechnologyDalianChina
  3. 3.Center for Microbial Ecology and TechnologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resources Reuse, College of Environmental Science and EngineeringTongji UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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