Microbial Electrochemical Heavy Metal Removal: Fundamental to the Recent Development

Prajakta Kumbhar, Nishit Savla, Srijoni Banerjee, Abhilasha Singh Mathuriya, Angana Sarkar, Santimoy Khilari, Dipak A. Jadhav, Soumya Pandit

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Metals are extensively used by many industries such as real estate, mining, construction, and transport. These heavy metals are detrimental to the environment as most of the heavy metals are carcinogenic. Without treatment of heavy metal-containing wastewater, these may accumulate in the fishes and other aquatic flora and fauna. Upon human consumption of those fishes, it may cause carcinogenic or mutagenic conditions such as skin irritation, allergies, or dermatitis. Adsorption and other existing waste treatment technologies are unable to remove heavy metals efficiently. Conventional remediation techniques are expensive and not eco-friendly. Microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a promising technology where electroactive bacteria can be used for removal of heavy metals with simultaneous electricity generation. Heavy metals can be removed via bioelectrochemical reduction at cathode chamber using the reduction capabilities of bacteria. This chapter highlighted the principle of MFCs for heavy metal removal, microbes associated with heavy metal reduction, catabolic pathway responsible for microbial oxidation of substrate, and heavy metal reduction. The different types of heavy metals, their structure, and effects along with the advantages and disadvantages of the heavy metals removal methods of MFC compared to other existing methods. This chapter discussed different case studies for heavy metal removal from groundwater using MFCs, the factors affecting metal recovery, and challenges in MFC operation during metal reduction at the cathode. The present chapter will help the readers to understand the fundamentals of microbial electrochemical heavy metal recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWastewater Treatment
Subtitle of host publicationCutting-Edge Molecular Tools, Techniques and Applied Aspects
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780128218815
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cathode bioelectricity
  • Exoelectrogenic bacteria
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbial fuel cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Chemical Engineering


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