Performance of different methanogenic species for the microbial electrosynthesis of methane from carbon dioxide

F. Mayer, F. Enzmann, A. M. Lopez, D. Holtmann

Microbial electrosynthesis (MES) is a promising technology to convert CO2 and electricity into the biofuel methane using methanogens. Until now, most investigations on electro-methanogenesis are “proof-of-principle” studies. In this paper, different strains were quantitatively compared in regard to final methane concentration, yields based on CO2-conversion, productivities as well as Coulombic efficiencies in order to identify suitable organisms for MES. Methanococcus vannielii, Methanococcus maripaludis, Methanolacinia petrolearia, Methanobacterium congolense, and Methanoculleus submarinus were able to produce methane via MES at −700 mV vs. standard hydrogen electrode (SHE). Beside methane also biological H2 production was detected during MES, which might be due to the involvement of hydrogenases. A direct electron transfer pathway is most likely. Obviously, M. maripaludis is the most resource efficient methane producer in microbial electrosynthesis regarding the methane productivity (8.81 ± 0.51 mmol m−2 d−1) and the Coulombic efficiency (58.9 ± 0.8%).

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