About

The International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology (ISMET) was founded on September 15, 2011 at Spats Cafe and Speakeasy Restaurant, State College, PA, following a workshop at Penn State organized by Jay Regan. The founding fathers are shown in the image to the left/right.

What are Microbial Electrochemical Technologies?

Microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) link a microbial metabolism to an electrochemical system.

METs have a variety of different configurations and potential applications, some of which are outlined below:

1. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) generate electrical current by harnessing bacterial metabolism. Electrode-respiring bacteria, capable of donating electrons to negatively poised electrodes, drive electrons from a useable substrate (often proposed as wastewater) through a circuit that ultimately reduces a terminal electron acceptor. This process is very similar to the natural respiration metabolism bacteria use to produce energy. Produced bacterial current can be harnessed for work if a load is added to the circuit.  A number of different mechanisms allow bacteria to respire with charged electrodes and include: direct via outer-membrane or extracellular proteins, and mediator-based via endogenous or exogenous mediators. The study of these mechanisms, along with optimization and application of MFC technology is of primary focus in current research.

 

Two types of MFCs used in laboratories for process testing.

 

2. Microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) utilize electrode-respiring bacteria to produce a chemical product, such as hydrogen, methane, ethanol, or hydrogen peroxide. While similar in design to MFCs, MECs employ a potentiostat or power supply to overcome thermodynamic limitations by applying an exogenous potential to the system. While real-world application of MFCs for electricity production is improbable due to low fossil fuel prices, the higher value of MEC products (e.g., methane, hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide) makes MECs a more promising technology. However, there are still many barriers to application; many of biological, chemical, and physical constraints that limit MFC scale-up also limit MEC development. Additionally, the collection of gaseous products at the cathode (e.g., hydrogen, methane) presents additional challenges. While promising, MEC technologies are still in the laboratory phase, and to be feasible for practical application their overall efficiencies and long-term reliability must be proven.

3. MFC and MEC technology are currently the two major proposed routes for industrial application of microbial electrochemical technologies, however, there are many other possible applications which are more specialized. These include biosensing, biocomputing, and basic research on microbial metabolism. Microbial electrochemical technologies (MET) are useful in biosensing because microbial electron transfer allows direct interface between biological systems and electrical circuits, resulting in quick response times and integration with traditional computing systems. Use of MET for biocomputing has the same advantages and additionally can integrate the complex regulatory machinery of bacterial cells into the "circuitry" of the biocomputer. In the realm of basic metabolic research, the microbe-electrode interface is useful because it allows direct, real-time measurement of the respiratory activity of a population of cells, a feature which cannot be found in any other experimental system. The area of MET research is broad and constantly changing, with new ideas and applications arising every year.

Registered ISMET users can access a large collection of scientific information, conference publications and contacts within the ISMET community. 

ISMET lives through the engagement of its community members and is steered by the ISMET Board and organized by ISMET Committees. Every year one third of the ISMET Board members roll of and new community members are elected to serve on the Board.

Board composition

President: Lars Angenent (outside regional representation)

Lars Angenent is a Professor at Cornell University and his teaching and research interest lay in sustainable bioenergy systems.  Lars is an applied microbiologist who works in the environmental biotechnology field. He utilizes microbial pathways that can accomplish one or more of these three objectives: 1) produce useful biochemicals or energy carriers; 2) recover carbon from industrial processes; and 3) store electrical energy from renewable electric power generators. In the area of microbial electrochemistry he is currently interested in microbe-microbe and microbe-electrode interactions within microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) and soil to achieve these objectives.

Regionally associated members

Americas

Sarah Strycharz-Glaven (Vice-president)

 My current research interests are in understanding extracellular electron transfer (EET) at biocathodes. We are taking two approaches: 1) fundamental electrochemical measurements to understand whether cathodes undergo long distance EET, and 2) an ‘omics’ approach using a combination of DNA, RNA, and protein sequencing to inform molecular genetics of cathode associated microbes. I have been a member of the BES community since 2006 and have been involved with ISMET since the first unofficial meeting in 2010 at the University of Massachusetts. 

Harold May (Treasurer)

Dr. May is a Professor of Microbiology at the Marine Biomedicine & Environmental Science Center of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.  He is an environmental microbiologist and microbial physiologist studying microbiomes involved in bioremediation and bioenergy, including electrobiomes (and pure cultures) associated with microbial electrosynthesis.

César Torres

César I. Torres is an associate professor within the chemical engineering program at Arizona State University and part of the Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology (SCEB) and the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG).  He has been working in the field of microbial electrochemistry since 2003. Current projects in his lab focus on characterizing transport processes in microbial electrochemical technologies (METs), characterizing new microbes capable of anode respiration, and optimizing reactor design for typical MET applications. Torres already served on the ISMET board for two years right after its inception and is currently the editor for ISMET News.

Europe

Miriam Rosenbaum

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Since June 2011, Miriam Rosenbaum is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied Microbiology (iAMB) at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Her research is currently focused on two central areas: i) tailoring microbial electrophysiology of anodic and cathodic reactions for specific microbial biocatalysis reactions; and ii) investigating and tailoring defined microbial co-cultures for diverse biotechnological (BES and non-BES) applications.

Annemiek ter Heijne

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Annemiek ter Heijne is an assistant professor at the Sub-department of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University. In her current position, she combines teaching in the field of renewable energy from a thermodynamic perspective with research on microbial electrochemical technologies. Her current projects focus on metal recovery, ammonium recovery, capacitive bio-anodes for wastewater treatment, and the conversion of electricity and CO2 into methane. Two years ago, ter Heijne was awarded the prestigious Dutch VENI grant, in which she studies the use of capacitive granules as bioanodes for electricity generation from wastewater.

Frédéric Barrière

 

 

Frédéric Barrière is an Associate Professor at the University of Rennes 1 in France. He is interested in electron transfer at the molecular, enzymatic and cellular levels as well as in molecular modeling and surface science.

 

Asia-Pacific

Bernardino Virdis

Bernardino Virdis is a Research Fellow at the Advanced Water Management Centre and its affiliated Centre for Microbial Electrochemical Systems at The University of Queensland, Australia. Bernardino has 10 years experience in microbial electrochemistry research. His current research and projects focus on understanding long range and interfacial electron transport in microbial biofilms using a combination of electrochemical and spectroscopy techniques, bioelectrochemical wastewater treatment, nutrients recovery, bioremediation, materials development for bioelectronics applications, production of biofuels and commodity chemicals through electrosynthesis and electrofermentation.

Enrico Marsili (Secretary)

I am a Lecturer at Dublin City University, Ireland, and Visiting Scientist at Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. I am currently working on electroconductive biofilms for biocorrosion and bioelectricity application and have more than 10 years expertise in electrochemical characterization of biofilms and its metabolites. Although I have worked with single species biofilms in the past, my main research focus is on environmental mixed electroactive consortia.

Yujie Feng


 
Yujie Feng is a full time professor in Harbin Institute of Technology and Visiting Professor of Penn State University, Winner of National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars in China, Fellow of IWA (International Water Association). Currently she is the deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resources and Environment (HIT) and vice dean of HIT Yixing Environmental Academy for Environmental Protection. Her research interests includes the directional conversion of pollutants and simultaneously resource/energy recovery from waste streams and the transformation, exposure and the environmental/ecological effects of high risk typical organic matters in urban water system. In 2014, she was regarded as one of China’s highly cited scholars by the publishing company Elsevier.

Committees

Awards committee

Chair: Frédéric Barriere

Members: Stefano Freguia

Newsletter committee

Chair: César Torres

Members: Belén Barroeta (Publishing coordinator), Falk Harnisch, Sudeep Popat; Xochitl Dominguez Benetton, Abraham Esteve-Núñez,  Enrico Marsili, Stefano Freguia, David Strik, Xin Wang, Deepak Pant and Federico Aulenta

Membership committee

Chair: Enrico Marsili (AP)

Members: Stefano Freguia (AP), Inseop Chang (AP), Yujie Feng (AP), Srikanth Mutnuri (AP), Venkata Mohan (AP), Xin Wang (AP), Ricardo Louro (EU), Deepak Pant (EU), Caitlyn Butler (NA), Jason Ren (NA), and Jason He (NA).

Nominations committee

Chair: Lars Angenent

Members: Bruce Logan, Korneel Rabaey, Sarah Strycharz-Glaven

Conference committee

Chair: Annemiek ter Heijne

Members: Korneel Rabaey, Lars Angenent, Bruce Logan, Yujie Feng and Ashley Franks

Website committee

Chair: Miriam Rosenbaum

Members: Falk Harnisch, Sèbastia Puig, Zhen (Jason) He, Bernardino Virdis

Administrator: Tim Lacoere

Twitter: Deepak Pant, Belén Barroeta

Alcalá Tree committee

Chair: Abraham Esteve-Nunez

Members: Future conference organizers