Microbial electrolysis cells for high yield hydrogen gas production from organic matter

Bruce Ernest Logan, Douglas Call, Shaoan Cheng, Hubertus V M Hamelers, Tom H J A Sleutels, Adriaan W. Jeremiasse, René A. Rozendal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

698 Scopus citations


The use of electrochemically active bacteria to break down organic matter, combined with the addition of a small voltage (>0.2 V in practice) in specially designed microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), can result in a high yield of hydrogen gas. While microbial electrolysis was invented only a few years ago, rapid developments have led to hydrogen yields approaching 100%, energy yields based on electrical energy input many times greater than that possible by water electrolysis, and increased gas production rates. MECs used to make hydrogen gas are similar in design to microbial fuel cells (MFCs) that produce electricity, but there are important differences in architecture and analytical methods used to evaluate performance. We review here the materials, architectures, performance, and energy efficiencies of these MEC systems that show promise as a method for renewable and sustainable energy production, and wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8630-8640
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

Cite this

Logan, B. E., Call, D., Cheng, S., Hamelers, H. V. M., Sleutels, T. H. J. A., Jeremiasse, A. W., & Rozendal, R. A. (2008). Microbial electrolysis cells for high yield hydrogen gas production from organic matter. Environmental Science and Technology, 42(23), 8630-8640. https://doi.org/10.1021/es801553z