Final Report Summary - ELECTROTALK (Starting an electrical conversation between microorganisms and electrodes to achieve bioproduction)
Society is electrifying, meaning that we use electricity more and more for new applications. The most common example is the electric car. But electricity can mean so much more. In ELECTROTALK, we used electricity as an energy source for bacteria. These bacteria use the electrical nergy to produce attractive compounds (even from carbon dioxide), to clean wastewater or to perform other tasks such as sensing. We established some key features of how bacteria interact with electricity, particularly how they grow as a film on the electrode supplying the electrical current. We learned that groups of bacteria could for a long time period maintain activity, and produce novel attractive products such as chemical building blocks, fuels and solvents. Testimony to the success of this project, several projects are now underway in which the technology will be tested at larger scale than our small lab scale endeavors. All together, we have shown here that bacteria can use renewable electricity and CO2 to produce valuable compounds and help mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.