Effects of surface charge and hydrophobicity on anodic biofilm formation, community composition, and current generation in bioelectrochemical systems

Kun Guo, Stefano Freguia, Paul G Dennis, Xin Chen, Bogdan C Donose, Jurg Keller, J Justin Gooding, Korneel Rabaey
Environmental Science & Technology 2013 July 2, 47 (13): 7563-70
The focus of this study was to investigate the effects of surface charge and surface hydrophobicity on anodic biofilm formation, biofilm community composition, and current generation in bioelectrochemical systems (BESs). Glassy carbon surfaces were modified with -OH, -CH3, -SO3(-), or -N(+)(CH3)3 functional groups by electrochemical reduction of aryl diazonium salts and then used as anodes with poised potential of -0.2 V (vs Ag/AgCl). The average startup times and final current densities for the -N(+)(CH3)3, -OH, -SO3(-), and -CH3, electrodes were (23 d, 0.204 mA/cm(2)), (25.4 d, 0.149 mA/cm(2)), (25.9 d, 0.114 mA/cm(2)), and (37.2 d, 0.048 mA/cm(2)), respectively. Biofilms on different surfaces were analyzed by nonturnover cyclic voltammetry (CV), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and 16S rRNA gene amplicon pyrosequencing. The results demonstrated that 1) differences in the maximum current output between surface modifications was correlated with biomass quantity, and 2) all biofilms were dominated by Geobacter populations, but the composition of -CH3-associated biofilms differed from those formed on surfaces with different chemical modification. This study shows that anode surface charge and hydrophobicity influences biofilm development and can lead to significant differences in BESs performance. Positively charged and hydrophilic surfaces were more selective to electroactive microbes (e.g. Geobacter) and more conducive for electroactive biofilm formation.

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