Spontaneous Solar Syngas Production from CO2 Driven by Energetically Favorable Wastewater Microbial Anodes

Lu Lu, Zhida Li, Xi Chen, Huan Wang, Sheng Dai, Xiaoqing Pan, Zhiyong Jason Ren, Jing Gu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The photoelectrochemical (PEC) reduction of CO2 to syngas is an attractive strategy for solar-to-fuel conversion. However, the high overpotential, inadequate selectivity, and high cost demand for alternative solutions. Here, we demonstrate a hybrid microbial photoelectrochemical (MPEC) system that contains a microbial anode capable of oxidizing waste organics in wastewater and reducing the oxidation potential by 1.1 V compared with abiotic water oxidation using a PEC anode. Moreover, the MPEC employs a power management circuit (PMC) to enable parallel low-energy-producing reactions operated in the same solution medium to conquer high-overpotential reactions. The nanowire silicon photocathode integrated with a selective single-atom nickel catalyst (Si NW/Ni SA) achieved up to ∼80% faradic efficiency for CO generation with a highly tunable CO:H2 generation ratio (0.1 to 6.8). When the bioanode was coupled with the Si NW/Ni SA, up to 1.1 mA cm−2 of spontaneous photocurrent density was obtained for high-rate syngas generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2149-2161
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 14 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Energy


  • microbial electrochemical oxidation
  • microbial photoelectrochemical CO reduction
  • self-sustaining system
  • solar energy conversion
  • syngas generation
  • wastewater treatment
  • water, energy, and carbon nexus


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