Electro-fermentation (EF) merges industrial fermentation with electrochemistry toward a new biotechnological conversion paradigm. Electrochemical cells can influence fermentation environments and microbial metabolism.
The benefit of this approach can be to optimize existing fermentation technologies with minimized substrate utilization and product-inhibition effects. EF opens possibilities to increase carbon efficiency, limit the use of additives for redox balance or pH control, and enhance microbial growth and product recovery. Using renewable sources of electricity (solar, wind, etc.), electrically driven pure-culture fermentations can efficiently target potentially higher value products, such as added-value nutraceuticals and food ingredients. EF can also be used to control fermentations based on complex microbial consortia and bring decisive advantages in agrofood residues utilization toward added-value biorefineries (biopolymers, biosolvents, electrofuels, and active molecules).
In this chapter, an overview is presented on this emerging and promising field of research, that today is still in its infancy, highlighting its potential paths toward application.