Electrochemical Control of Redox Potential Arrests Methanogenesis and Regulates Products in Mixed Culture Electro-Fermentation

Yong Jiang, Lu Lu, Huan Wang, Ruixia Shen, Zheng Ge, Dianxun Hou, Xi Chen, Peng Liang, Xia Huang, Zhiyong Jason Ren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


This study demonstrates the feasibility of using solid electrodes as an alternative source or sink of electrons to regulate the redox potential of mixed culture anaerobic reactors, so tunable fermentation products can be generated. The product spectrum was characterized under the working potentials of â1.0, â0.6, and â0.2 V (versus Ag/AgCl), which spans the electron flow direction from cathodic current to anodic current. Results show that in neutral pH a more negative working potential led to higher production of CH4, H2, and acetic acid, while increasing the potential from â1.0 to â0.2 V (versus Ag/AgCl) greatly reduced methanogenesis by 68% and acetic acid generation by 33%. Lowering initial pH to 6.2 reduced such effects by electrical potential. The decrease of working potential slightly decreased butyric acid production and showed little impact on propionic acid under both pH conditions. When the reactor switched from poised conditions to open circuit condition, more propionic acid and acetic acid while less butyric acid production was observed. This redox-potential-based control presents a new approach to regulate the mixed culture fermentation and improve product tunability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8650-8658
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Arrested methanogenesis
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Electro-fermentation
  • Hydrogen


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