Excessive extracellular polymeric substances induced by organic shocks accelerate electron transfer of oxygen reducing biocathode.

Affiliation

Liao C(1), Zhao Q(1), Wang S(2), Yan X(1), Li T(1), Zhou L(1), An J(2), Yan Y(1), Li N(2), Wang X(3).
Author information:
(1)MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, No. 38 Tongyan Road, Jinnan District, Tianjin 300350, China.
(2)School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, No. 92 Weijin Road, Nankai District, Tianjin 300072, China.
(3)MOE Key Laboratory of Pollution Processes and Environmental Criteria, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Environmental Remediation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Nankai University, No. 38 Tongyan Road, Jinnan District, Tianjin 300350, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Electrotrophic bacteria on cathodes are promising substitutes to precious metals as oxygen reduction reaction catalysts in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs). Leading the anodic effluent to the biocathode has additional benefits of neutralizing pH and removing residual pollutants. However, the overflow of excessive organic pollutants inhibits the activity of autotrophic biocathodes. Adding glucose as an organic shock, we confirm that the startup time of biocathodes is initially prolonged by 1.2 times with a decrease in current. However, the currents inversely surpass the control in glucose-added BESs when the biofilm is mature, and the maximum current density increase by 5.5 times with a relatively stable performance. This increase is mainly attributed to the production of agglomerates dominated by polysaccharides and proteins as extracellular polymeric substances. These agglomerates wrap additional redox shuttles that accelerated the electron transfer between electrotrophic bacteria and the cathode. This study demonstrates for the first time that organic shocks enhance the electroactivity of autotrophic biocathodes and provides insights into the feedback mechanisms of electrotrophic microbial community to environmental changes.