010052: Single Compartment Electrochemical Bioreactor System


A biofuel cell is a device that directly converts microbial metabolic power into electricity using electrochemical technology. Microbial fuel cells have previously used systems with two compartments: (1) an aerated cathode compartment containing a chemical solution of ferric cyanide and oxygen; and (2) an anode compartment containing bacterial cells, electron mediator, and reduced substrate.

MSU’s invention is an electrochemical bioreactor system with a single compartment containing first electrode, second electrode, electrically conductive material connecting the electrodes, electrolyte for providing ionic conductivity between electrodes, and biocatalyst. The electrochemical bioreactor system has an improved electrode that has applications for biocatalytic synthesis. The invention would be useful to produce electricity using electrical energy as a source of reducing power in fermentation or enzymatic reactions and using electron mediators and biocatalyst, such as cells or enzymes.


* High rate of electron transfer: Improved system enhances the rate of electron transfer from cells and provides high electron transfer efficiency for a wide range of microbes as potential biocatalysts.

* Simple, cost-effective design: Single compartment fuel cell design is less complex and less expensive to construct and uses a porcelain septum in place of an expensive proton selective membrane.

* Wide application: System has use as an enzymatic fuel cell, as a sensor for succinate detection, and as an engineered catalyst for the synthesis of fumarate or succinate.


Among other applications, this invention can be used as an enrichment device for electrophilic microorganisms that use an electrode as an electron acceptor or an electron donor for energy conservation.

IP Protection Status

Covered by US patent 7,250,288

Additional patents pending

Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University - Test