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Investigating the electron uptake mechanisms of bacteria on bio-cathodes for microbial electrosynthesis

Project description

'Electric' bacteria to produce acetate from carbon dioxide

Microbial electrosynthesis can provide desirable chemicals from carbon dioxide and electricity via biological electron transfer. This feature could help address carbon capture and storage issues for the renewable energy sector, contributing to a carbon neutral economy in the future. The EU-funded project BioCat will investigate the fundamental mechanisms of microbial electrosynthesis at the membrane protein level. Research will utilise different bacterial sources to study the basic electron transfer mechanisms for electrosynthesis. The final stage will include construction and optimisation of an operational continuous-run prototype reactor for carbon dioxide conversion into acetate.


The project „BioCat“ investigates electron uptake mechanisms of electroactive bacteria catalyzing reduction processes on biocathodes at the protein membrane level. Thus, the project will significantly contribute to the basic understanding and optimization of
microbial electrosynthesis.
The driving force for the increasing interest in microbial electrosynthesis is the intriguing capacity of this technology to
produce high value chemicals from carbon dioxide and electricity. This conversion addresses carbon capture and storage
issues of renewable power sources and will contribute to a carbon neutral economy and society.
The project will be conducted at the Inorganic Biochemistry and NMR group (IBN) of the ITQB NOVA in Lisbon with a
secondment at the University of Tübingen at the Laboratory of Prof.Dr. Lars Angenent.
BioCat is divided into three main objectives. First of all a basic understanding of the role of c-type cytochromes and the
indirect or direct nature of the electron transfer will be investigated with Shewanella oneidensis. Subsequently Sporomusa
ovata and its membrane proteins carrying out electron transfer are studied, while the production of acetate from CO2 is
monitored. Both will be analyzed as a function of operating parameters (electrode potential and pH). To round up the project, an optimized continuous run prototype reactor will be operated and characterized.
The project will enable the researcher Joana Madjarov to get trained in the whole chain of basic to applied research. The
main focus lies in the fundamental biochemical research, but the project directly links the findings to application relevant acetate production yields and efficiency.

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Net EU contribution
€ 159 815,04
1099 085 Lisboa

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Continente Área Metropolitana de Lisboa Área Metropolitana de Lisboa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 159 815,04