Carbon dioxide and organic waste valorization by microbial electrosynthesis and electro-fermentation

Yong Jiang, Harold D. May, Lu Lu, Peng Liang, Xia Huang, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


Carbon-rich waste materials (solid, liquid, or gaseous) are largely considered to be a burden on society due to the large capital and energy costs for their treatment and disposal. However, solid and liquid organic wastes have inherent energy and value, and similar as waste CO2 gas they can be reused to produce value-added chemicals and materials. There has been a paradigm shift towards developing a closed loop, biorefinery approach for the valorization of these wastes into value-added products, and such an approach enables a more carbon-efficient and circular economy. This review quantitatively analyzes the state-of-the-art of the emerging microbial electrochemical technology (MET) platform and provides critical perspectives on research advancement and technology development. The review offers side-by-side comparison between microbial electrosynthesis (MES) and electro-fermentation (EF) processes in terms of principles, key performance metrics, data analysis, and microorganisms. The study also summarizes all the processes and products that have been developed using MES and EF to date for organic waste and CO2 valorization. It finally identifies the technological and economic potentials and challenges on future system development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-55
Number of pages14
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


  • Bioelectrochemical system
  • Carbon valorization
  • Electro-fermentation
  • Microbial electrochemical technology
  • Microbial electrosynthesis


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