Bacterial Wiring for Energy Conversion and Bioremediation

Grant Agreement No 229337
EC Grant 2,949,999 €
Project duration 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2012
Coordinator University of Alicante
Contact Juan Miguel Feliu (



Microbial fuel cells are devices capable of converting organic fuels such as acetate into electrical energy. Their operation principle is similar to that of a fuel cell but they use living organisms to catalyse the conversion of the fuel into electricity at the anode. The cathode can be a conventional oxygen diffusion electrode. During the operation of the fuel cell, the fuel is converted into CO 2 and O 2 is reduced to water, in an overall reaction equal to the direct combustion of the fuel but without direct contact of the reagents. So, electrical energy is spontaneously produced. Although the power output of these devices is still rather low, they are especially well suited to be used in the degradation of waste waters jointly with the cogeneration of electrical energy. The main aspect that needs improvement is the connectivity between bacteria and the electrode surface. Different strategies are planned to improve this problem during the course of this project.

The aim of the proposed research is not to replace large power generation facilities such as coal-fired power stations, but to provide the possibility of a self-sustained process where the chemical energy stored in the pollutant would be invested on its own remediation treatment. This is possible employing a new approach that makes use of recently available nanotechnology and microbiological concepts.



  • Study of whole-cell bacterial redox reactions on graphite and single-crystal gold electrodes;
  • Study of redox properties of isolated bacterial molecules on carbon and single crystal gold electrodes as model of the bacteria surface interaction;
  • Investigation of bacterial redox processes by Surface Enhanced Infrared Absorption Spectroscopy (SEIRAS);
  • Use of AFM/STM to study specific molecules at the bacterial surface;
  • Design and synthesis of bifunctional linkers for optimal electron transfer;
  • Modelling of particulate carbon electrodes for use in the engineering of the bacterial electrochemical cell;



Organisation Country Type of institution Contact
University of Alicante Spain Research and higher education
University of Liverpool UK Research and higher education
Universidad de Alcala de Henares Spain Research and higher education
INTEMA Argentine
University of Bern Switzerland Research and higher education
E-CELL Denmark