Microbial Fuel Cells


This curricular unit aims to present the interactions between living microbial cells and electrodes, the emergent technologies and electro-biotechnological applications. Particular emphasis will be given to microbial fuel cells and their applications in bioelectricity production, electrobioremediation and microbial electrosynthesis. At the end of this curricular unit it is expected that the student is able to (i) understand the extracellular electron transfer processes; (ii) argue on the different type of interactions between microorganism and the electrodes; (iii) discuss and recognize the emergent technologies in the electrobiotechnology field and their practical applications; (iv) search and interpret critically the literature.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Carlos Alberto Gomes Salgueiro


Weekly - 2

Total - 29

Teaching language



Available soon


Os slides das aulas bem como alguns artigos científicos sugeridos no decurso da UC deverão ser suficientes para permitir ao aluno um acompanhamento adequado da mesma. No entanto são referidos em seguida alguns livros de texto que poderão servir de apoio às matérias abordadas.

  1. Bioelectrochemical Systems: From Extracellular Electron Transfer to Biotechnological Application (2010) Eds. K. Rabaey, L. Angenent, U. Schroder and J. Keller, IWA Publishing, London, United Kingdom.
  2. Biofilms in Bioelectrochemical Systems: From Laboratory Practice to Data Interpretation (2015) Eds. H. Beyenal and J.T. Babauta, John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Microbial Fuel Cells (2008) Bruce E. Logan, Wiley.
  4. Microbial Electrochemical and Fuel Cells: Fundamentals and Applications (2016) Eds. Keith Scott, Eileen Hao Yu, Elsevier.


Teaching method

The course includes lectures and problem-solving classes. The lectures will be taught using "data show", accompanied by supplementary bibliography previously available on the website of discipline.

 The problem-solving classes will focus on the preparation, presentation and discussion od a Biotecnnohlogical application (Biotech Apps).

Evaluation method

1. Obtaining frequency: the frequency in all Biotech Apps is mandatory, as well as in the classes presented by invited speakers, when applies.

 2. Evaluation of the UC:

- Presentation of the Biotech App (60% final grade)

- Written summary of the Biotech App. (maximum 2000 words) (10% od th final grade)

- Final test (30% of the final grade). Only students with frequency are admitted to the final test.

3. The exam keeps the percentage of 30% relative to the final grade calculation. The remaining 70% correspond to the grade obtained in the Biotech App and respective written summary. The students with approval on the ongoing evaluation may improve the grade in the exam. To do so, they should follow the current regulations. Also in this case, the exam keeps the percentages of 30%. 

4.  Approval and final grade:

Only students with frequency at the UC will be assigned a final grade. Students will obtain approval at the UC provided they have a final rating equal to or greater than 9.5.

Subject matter

1. Microbial fuel cells
1.1.         Components and architectures
1.2.         Microrganisms as biocatalysts
1.2.1.           Respiratory diversity 
1.2.2.           Electroactive microbial communities
1.2.3.            Extracellular electron transfer (ETT)
1.2.4.            Exoelectrogenic microrganisms
1.2.5.            Biochemical mechanisms of ETT
1.2.6.            Cellular organization 
2. Microbial fuel cells or electrochemical (MEC) and and biotechnological applications
2.1.         Bioenergy production 
2.2.1.            Sediment or benthic MEC 
2.2.2.            Plant based MEC 
2.2.3.            Electrobioremediation
2.2.               Chemical production MEC
2.3.         Microbial electrosynthesis
2.4.         Desalination MEC 
3. Strategies to increase MEC performance
3.1.        Design
3.2.         Biogenic and non-biogenic redox shuttles
3.3.         Cellular membrane permeability
3.4.         Stimulated direct interspecies electron transfer
3.5.         Adaptive evolution
3.6.         Biological strategies


Programs where the course is taught: