Microbes provide a platform for the synthesis of clean energy from renewable resources. Significant investments in discovering new microbial systems and capabilities, discerning the molecular mechanisms that mediate microbial bioenergy production, and optimizing existing microbial bioenergy systems have been made. However, further development is needed to achieve the economically feasible large-scale production of value-added energy products. Microfabricated lab-on-a-chip systems provide cost- and time-efficient opportunities for analyzing microbe-mediated bioenergy synthesis. Here, we review developments in the application of lab-on-a-chip systems to the bioenergy sciences. We focus on systems that support the analysis of microbial generation of bioelectricity, biogas, and liquid transportation fuels. We conclude by suggesting possible future directions.
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