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Environmental Science and Engineering Program Seminar - Dr. Alfred Spormann

Start Date: May 1, 2017
End Date: May 1, 2017

​​TITLE: Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Uptake of Extracellular Electrons
DATE: Monday, May 1, 2017
TIME: 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Lecture Hall Level 0 · btw Buildings 4 & 5

Microbial electrosynthesis is an emerging technology for storing electrical energy and for producing CO2-neutral organic commodity chemicals and fuels. At the core is the observation that certain microorganisms can take up electrons from a cathode poised at a suitably negative potential of around <-400 mV (vs SHE). These electrons are subsequently metabolized via the energy metabolism of the microorganism. By exploiting the metabolic trait, e.g., of homoacetogenic bacteria to utilize CO2 as electron acceptor in their energy metabolism, electrosynthesis of various multi-carbon compounds from CO2 can be achieved at high efficiencies. Subsequent use, disposal, and/or combustion of these compounds as biofuels, chemicals or plastics is carbon neutral. The molecular mechanism of how microbes take up and metabolize electrons from a cathode is mostly unknown. This talk will present our data on electron uptake mechanisms.
Dr. Spormann received his PhD degree (Dr. rer. nat.) in Marburg, Germany, at the Philipps University in Marburg in Microbiology in 1989, and then went for postdoctoral studies to the Departments of Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and to Stanford University. He joined the faculty at Stanford University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1994, where he is a Full Professor. In 2007 he was jointly appointed also in Stanford’s Department of Chemical Engineering.