Bioelectrochemical system platform for sustainable environmental remediation and energy generation

Heming Wang, Haiping Luo, Paul H. Fallgren, Song Jin, Zhiyong Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

253 Scopus citations


The increasing awareness of the energy-environment nexus is compelling the development of technologies that reduce environmental impacts during energy production as well as energy consumption during environmental remediation. Countries spend billions in pollution cleanup projects, and new technologies with low energy and chemical consumption are needed for sustainable remediation practice. This perspective review provides a comprehensive summary on the mechanisms of the new bioelectrochemical system (BES) platform technology for efficient and low cost remediation, including petroleum hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, perchlorate, azo dyes, and metals, and it also discusses the potential new uses of BES approach for some emerging contaminants remediation, such as CO2 in air and nutrients and micropollutants in water. The unique feature of BES for environmental remediation is the use of electrodes as non-exhaustible electron acceptors, or even donors, for contaminant degradation, which requires minimum energy or chemicals but instead produces sustainable energy for monitoring and other onsite uses. BES provides both oxidation (anode) and reduction (cathode) reactions that integrate microbial-electro-chemical removal mechanisms, so complex contaminants with different characteristics can be removed. We believe the BES platform carries great potential for sustainable remediation and hope this perspective provides background and insights for future research and development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Oxidation
  • Reduction
  • Remediation


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