Scalability of microbial electrochemical technologies: Applications and challenges

Dipak A. Jadhav, Sung Gwan Park, Soumya Pandit, Euntae Yang, Mohammad Ali Abdelkareem, Jae Kyung Jang, Kyu Jung Chae

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


During wastewater treatment, microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) are a promising means for in situ energy harvesting and resource recovery. The primary constraint for such systems is scaling them up from the laboratory to practical applications. Currently, most research (∼90%) has been limited to benchtop models because of bioelectrochemical, economic, and engineering design limitations. Field trials, i.e., 1.5 m3 bioelectric toilet, 1000 L microbial electrolysis cell and industrial applications of METs have been conducted, and their results serve as positive indicators of their readiness for practical applications. Multiple startup companies have invested in the pilot-scale demonstrations of METs for industrial effluent treatment. Recently, advances in membrane/electrode modification, understanding of microbe–electrode interaction, and feasibility of electrochemical redox reactions have provided new directions for realizing the practical application. This study reviews the scaling-up challenges, success stories for onsite use, and readiness level of METs for commercialization that is inexpensive and sustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126498
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrogen
  • Microbial electrochemical system
  • Microbial electrolysis cell
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Scaling-up challenges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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