Microbial bioelectrosynthesis of hydrogen: Current challenges and scale-up

Michael Kitching, Robin Butler, Enrico Marsili

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Sustainable energy supplies are needed to supplement and eventually replace fossil fuels. Molecular hydrogen H2 is a clean burning, high-energy fuel that is also used as reducing gas in industrial processes. H2 is mainly synthesized by steam reforming of natural gas, a non-renewable fuel. There are biosynthetic strategies for H2 production; however, they are associated with poor yield and have high cost. The application of an electrochemical driving force in a microbial electrolysis cell (MEC) improves the yield of biological reactions. The performance of the MEC is influenced by experimental parameters such as the electrode material, reactor design, microbial consortia and the substrate. In this review, factors that affect the performance of MECs are discussed and critically analysed. The potential for scale-up of H2 bioelectrosynthesis is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioelectroreactors
  • Bioelectrosynthesis
  • Biofilms
  • Hydrogen
  • Microbial electrolysis cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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