Electro-fermentation (EF) merges traditional industrial fermentation with electrochemistry. An imposed electrical field influences the fermentation environment and microbial metabolism in either a reductive or oxidative manner.
The benefit of this approach is to produce target biochemicals with improved selectivity, increase carbon efficiency, limit the use of additives for redox balance or pH control, enhance microbial growth, or in some cases enhance product recovery. We discuss the principles of electrically driven fermentations and how EF can be used to steer both pure culture and microbiota-based fermentations.
An overview is given on which advantages EF may bring to both existing and innovative industrial fermentation processes, and which doors might be opened in waste biomass utilization towards added-value biorefineries.