Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol.115, No.7, 1705-1716, 2018
Characterization of a membrane-separated and a membrane-less electrobioreactor for bioelectrochemical syntheses
Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) have the potential to contribute to the energy revolution driven by the new bio-economy. Until recently, simple reactor designs with minimal process analytics have been used. In recent years, assemblies to host electrodes in bioreactors have been developed resulting in so-called electrobioreactors. Bioreactors are scalable, well-mixed, controlled, and therefore widely used in biotechnology and adding an electrode extends the possibilities to investigate bioelectrochemical production processes in a standard system. In this work, two assemblies enabling a separated and non-separated electrochemical operation, respectively, are designed and extensively characterized. Electrochemical losses over the electrolyte and the membrane were comparable to H-cells, the bioelectrochemical standard reaction system. An effect of the electrochemical measurements on pH measurements was observed if the potential is outside the range of -1,000 to +600mV versus Ag/AgCl. Electrobiotechnological characterization of the two assemblies was done using Shewanella oneidensis as an electroactive model organism. Current production over time was improved by a separation of anodic and cathodic chamber by a Nafion (R) membrane. The developed electrobioreactor was used for a scale-up of the anaerobic bioelectrochemical production of organic acids and lysine from glucose using an engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum. Comparison to a small-scale custom-made electrobioreactor indicates that anodic electro-fermentation of lysine and organic acids might not be limited by the BES setup but by the biocatalysis of the cells.