The substrate-utilization rate of anode-respiring bacteria (ARB) directly correlates to the current density, one of the main factors in a microbial electrolysis/fuel cell. This study first evaluates the effects of donor-substrate diffusion and anode potentialonthe estimation of the half-maximum-rate concentration (Ks) and the maximum specific substrate-utilization rate (qmax) of a mixed culture biofilm in a microbial electrolysis cell oxidizing acetate. The intrinsic Ks value is 119 g COD/m3, substrate diffusion has a significant impact on Ks estimation, and the effect of the anode potential on Ks is small. The intrinsic qmax value is 22.3 g COD/g VS-d for an assumed biomass density of 50,000 g VS/m3 (qmaxX f) 1120 kg COD/m3-d). The maximum specific growth rate (μmax) is 3.2/d which is substantially faster than for acetate-utilizing methanogens and homoacetogens. Although the anode potential affects qmax, substrate diffusion has a negligible effect. The measured half-saturation anode potential (EKA) is very negative, -0.448 V (vs Ag/AgCl), and this low value minimizes anode-potential limitation on the current density and the substrate-utilization rate. Thus, the ARB selected in our biofilm anode were relatively fast growers able to take advantage of their low EKA value (-0.448 V).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7571-7577
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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