Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies - ELECTRA



The project “Electricity driven Low Energy and Chemical input Technology foR Accelerated bioremediation” (ELECTRA) is a EU-China RTD joint initiative addressing the work program for the topic CE-BIOTEC-04-2018 “New biotechnologies for environmental remediation” to meet the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development highlighted in the EC-China Flagship initiative on Health and Environment. ELECTRA consists of one EC-funded consortium (17 partners from 6 EU countries and 1 associated country) and one China-funded consortium, which brings together some of the world-leading researchers in the field of electro-biotechnology and bioremediation who will deliver innovative environmental electro-microbiology based biotechnologies to accelerate the elimination of several classes of pollutants. This project is coordinated by Philippe Corvini (Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Switzerland) and will run from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2022.

electraAbout 20 years ago, research on electro-microbiology truly emerged after decades of slumbering existence. The 1st derivative technology was the microbial fuel cell, creating power from organic waste or sediments. The concepts discovered in the era of microbial fuel cell research have made a tremendous impact on our understanding of microbial processes. Electrons flow extracellularly in anaerobic digesters, in the ocean sediments between methanotrophs and sulphate reducers, and between microorganisms in defined consortia. The impact of the field of electro-microbiology is thus enormous and the findings now enable going well beyond making power from waste. Instead, processes such as bio-production and bioremediation can be driven by solid state electron donors and acceptors in a highly controllable manner. These donors or acceptors are not restricted to electrodes fixed in a reactor, they can take many forms and be distributed in the environment or in larger reactor system. Thus, the so-called microbial bio-electrochemical systems (BESs) enable controllable, zero-chemical-input bioremediation in many different settings.

The scientific hypothesis underlying the ELECTRA project is: In the environment, electron-flow typically limits degradation, and is difficult to control; this major hurdle can be overcome with electro-microbiology. In total 10 innovative technologies based on environmental electro-microbiology will be developed and tailored for 4 different environmental matrices (wastewater (WW), groundwater (GW), soils and sediment) for accelerated pollutant elimination. Our technologies will perform better in terms of risk management, energy consumption and chemicals requirement than standard physico-chemical remediation approaches.



ELECTRA  aims at lifting bio-electrochemical systems to a next level for field applications and in-situ remediation of pollutants in 4 matrices (WW, GW, soil and sediment) by means of:

•    Obtaining a set of microbial consortia and autochthonous microorganisms for accelerated biodegradation/biotransformation of the targeted pollutants
•    Developing a set of (bio)analytical methods to reliably assess the pollutant removal performances of the biotechnologies as well as the detoxification of the contaminated matrices
•    Developing a set of remediation biotechnologies necessitating no/low chemical addition and limited energy for removal of multiple contaminants specific of a given matrix in environmentally relevant concentrations
•    Developing a set of remediation biotechnologies necessitating no external energy supply and a minimum of chemical addition for the removal of multiple contaminants specific of a given matrix in environmentally relevant concentration
•    Selecting the most advanced biotechnological approach in each matrix (WW, GW, sediment and soil) for scaling up and validation under different environmentally relevant conditions at contaminated sites and outdoor facilities in both Europe and China.
•    Demonstration of the remediation efficiency compliance, as well as of environmental & financial sustainability of the developed environmental biotechnologies

Role of Ghent University

Professor Korneel Rabaey is the scientific coordinator of ELECTRA project. Two technologies (Fluidized Bio-electrochemical Systems- supervised by Prof. Korneel Rabaey and Biopalladium Nanoparticle-based Dechlorination Processes- supervised by Prof. Nico Boon) will be developed in Ghent University.





Prof. Korneel Rabaey/Prof. Nico Boon
Ugent –Campus Coupure
Department Biotechnology - CMET
Phone number: 09 264 59 76
E-mail: and