This study describes the performance of a microbial biocathode, based on a hydrogenophilic methanogenic culture, capable of reducing carbon dioxide to methane, at high rates (up to 0.055 + or - 0.002 mmol d(-1) mgVSS(-1)) and electron capture efficiencies (over 80%). Methane was produced, at potentials more negative than -650 mV vs. SHE, both via abiotically produced hydrogen gas (i.e., via hydrogenophilic methanogenesis) and via direct extracellular electron transfer. The relative contribution of these two mechanisms was highly dependent on the set cathode potential. Both cyclic voltammetry tests and batch potentiostatic experiments indicated that the capacity for extracellular electron transfer was a constitutive trait of the hydrogenophilic methanogenic culture. In principle, both electrons and carbon dioxide required for methane production could be obtained from a bioanode carrying out the oxidation of waste organic substrates.
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