Suppression of methanogens is considered as one of the main challenges in achieving the practical application of several types of bioelectrochemical system (BES). Feasibility of mixed culture as an inoculum in BES is mainly restricted by methanogenic population. Methanogens compete with electrogens (in bioanodes) or acetogens (in biocathodes) for substrate which results in diminishing Coulombic efficiency. Selection of particular inoculum pretreatment method affects the microbial diversity in anodic/cathodic microenvironments and hence the performance of BES.
This review discusses various physical, chemical and biological pretreatment methods for suppressing the growth of methanogens. Selective microbial enrichment in anodic/cathodic biofilm can be promoted with bioaugmentation and/or applied external potential approach to harvest maximum Coulombs from the substrate.
For field application of BES, physical pretreatment methods can be proposed with intermittent addition of chemical inhibitors and conversion of methane to electricity in order to make the process inexpensive along with recovering the maximum energy.