Indexed on: 17 Jun '06Published on: 17 Jun '06Published in: Nature Reviews Microbiology
It is well established that some reduced fermentation products or microbially reduced artificial mediators can abiotically react with electrodes to yield a small electrical current. This type of metabolism does not typically result in an efficient conversion of organic compounds to electricity because only some metabolic end products will react with electrodes, and the microorganisms only incompletely oxidize their organic fuels. A new form of microbial respiration has recently been discovered in which microorganisms conserve energy to support growth by oxidizing organic compounds to carbon dioxide with direct quantitative electron transfer to electrodes. These organisms, termed electricigens, offer the possibility of efficiently converting organic compounds into electricity in self-sustaining systems with long-term stability.