A General Model for Biofilm-Driven Microbial Electrosynthesis of Carboxylates From CO2

Oriol Cabau-Peinado, Adrie J.J. Straathof, Ludovic Jourdin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Up to now, computational modeling of microbial electrosynthesis (MES) has been underexplored, but is necessary to achieve breakthrough understanding of the process-limiting steps. Here, a general framework for modeling microbial kinetics in a MES reactor is presented. A thermodynamic approach is used to link microbial metabolism to the electrochemical reduction of an intracellular mediator, allowing to predict cellular growth and current consumption. The model accounts for CO2 reduction to acetate, and further elongation to n-butyrate and n-caproate. Simulation results were compared with experimental data obtained from different sources and proved the model is able to successfully describe microbial kinetics (growth, chain elongation, and product inhibition) and reactor performance (current density, organics titer). The capacity of the model to simulate different system configurations is also shown. Model results suggest CO2 dissolved concentration might be limiting existing MES systems, and highlight the importance of the delivery method utilized to supply it. Simulation results also indicate that for biofilm-driven reactors, continuous mode significantly enhances microbial growth and might allow denser biofilms to be formed and higher current densities to be achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number669218
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • bioelectrochemical system
  • chain elongation
  • CO reduction
  • mathematical model
  • microbial electrosynthesis
  • microbial kinetics


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