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Abhijeet Borole



Dr. Abhijeet Borole has two decades of experience in bioprocessing, biomass conversion, waste to energy and bioelectrochemical systems. He also holds a Joint Faculty position at the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Education and the Center for Environmental Biotechnology and a Research Scientist position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His research is focused on fermentation, microbial fuel / electrolysis cells and their applications in the biorefinery and the oil and gas industry. He has published 55 peer-reviewed papers, 4 patents and 4 books/chapters. His interests lie at the interface of biology, electrochemistry and engineering, targeting energy efficiency and electrosynthesis. He uses biofilms and develops practical strategies to convert low value resources into higher value products.

He has collaborated with most major energy companies including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Texaco, Unocal, as well as small producers via WFO and CRADA projects. He has worked on developing technologies for enabling water reuse, sustainable biofuel production and bioremediation. His current efforts cover water-energy-food nexus issues spanning from the biorefinery and bioenergy industry to the oil and gas industry. He has been nominated for Discover Award and Biology Award from BioMed Central, He serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Renewable Energy.

His other interests include bioreactor development, fossil bioprocessing, multiphase process design and environmental biocatalysis, fuel cells, pyrolysis, syngas utilization, biodesulfurization, biological mercury removal and anaerobic digestion.


  • Hydrogen production in biorefinery
  • Bioelectrochemical conversion of pyrolysis aqueous phase and fermentation byproducts into value-added products
  • Electro-Fermentation for producing advanced chemical and polymer building blocks
  • Electricity production via microbial and enzyme fuels cells
  • Optimization of bioelectrochemical cells for organic and inorganic waste removal
  • Electroactive biofilm establishment and systems biology studies
  • Development of three-dimensional enzyme and microbial electrodes
  • Desalination of brackish water, produced water and fracking water
  • Bioreactor development for syngas fermentation and synthetic pathway development

Circular Bioeconomy

The BER Lab at ORNL is engaged in integration of bioelectrochemical systems with biorefinery and other industries for development of a circular economy for the 21st century. Effective resource utilization and recovery via intrinsic conversion of waste materials so as to minimize waste generation is the goal of this lab.

Electroactive Biofilms

The BER Lab has been engaged in development and optimization of microbial biofilms growing on electrodes to produce or use electrons for conversion of complex feedstocks and to produce value-added products including fuels and chemicals. The specific areas of research include hydrogen production from pyrolysis aqueous phase and other recalcitrant but abundant waste materials. We have demonstrated production of hydrogen from switchgrass, green waste and pine sawdust derived liquids with productivities reaching that required for practical application.

Tools to Investigate Bioelectrochemical Systems (BES)

In order to understand the bioelectrochemical mechanisms of the reactions occurring at the anode and/or the cathode, we employ various analytical and electrochemical tools. The primary technique we use extensively is Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS). EIS provides a blueprint of the numerous processes occurring within the BES and a means to quantitate the mass transfer, kinetics and electrochemical parameters associated with these processes. We are working on linking the biological parameters associated with exoelectrogenic biofilms to electron and proton transfer. A better understanding of the bioelectrochemical parameters should enable optimization of design and biology to improve performance.

Another goal of our work is to better understand the operational and practical aspects of microbial fuel cells, electrolysis cells and other bioelectrochemical systems. Long term studies of MFCs and MECs have identified optimal conditions for demonstrating application feasibility of the MEC and related technologies.


Ph.D., The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

M.S., The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

B.S. (B.Chem.Eng.), Mumbai University, India


  • X. Zeng, M.A. Collins, A.P. Borole, S.G. Pavlostathis, The extent of fermentative transformation of phenolic compounds in the bioanode controls exoelectrogenic activity in a microbial electrolysis cell., Wat. Res., 109 (2017) 299-309.
  • L.K. Park, J. Liu, S. Yiacoumi, A.P. Borole, C. Tsouris, Contribution of acidic components to the total acid number (TAN) of bio-oil, Fuel, 200 (2017) 171-181.
  • A.P. Borole, A.J. Lewis, Proton transfer in microbial electrolysis cells, Sustainable Energy & Fuels, in press (2017).
  • X. Zeng, A.P. Borole, S.G. Pavlostathis, Inhibitory Effect of Furanic and Phenolic Compounds on Exoelectrogenesis in a Microbial Electrolysis Cell Bioanode, Environmental Science & Technology, 50 (2016) 11357−11365.
  • T.C. Pannell, R.K. Goud, D.J. Schell, A.P. Borole, Effect of fed-batch vs. continuous mode of operation on microbial fuel cell performance treating biorefinery wastewater, Biochemical Engineering Journal, 116 (2016) 85-94.
  • A.P. Borole, Microbial Electrochemical Cells and Biorefinery Energy Efficiency, in: T. Cong, C. Eckert (Eds.) Biotechnology for Biofuel Production and Optimization, Edition 1, Elsevier, New York, 2016.
  • A.J. Lewis, S. Ren, X. Ye, P. Kim, N. Labbe, A.P. Borole, Hydrogen production from switchgrass via a hybrid pyrolysis-microbial electrolysis process, Bior. Technol., 195 (2015) 231-241.
  • A.P. Borole, Microbial Fuel Cells and Microbial Electrolyzers, The Electrochemical Society  - Interface, 24 (2015) 55-59.
  • A.P. Borole, K.T. Klasson, W. Ridenour, J. Holland, K. Karim, M.H. Al-Dahhan, Methane production in a 100-L upflow bioreactor by anaerobic digestion of farm waste, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 131 (2006) 887-896.


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Selected Patents

  • Borole, A. P. and C. Tsouris (2013). “Microbial Fuel Cell Treatment of Fuel Processing Wastewater,” US Patent 8,597,513 B2
  • Borole, A. P. (2012). “Microbial fuel cell treatment of ethanol fermentation process water,” USA, US Patent 8,192,854 B2


Ramirez-Corredores, M.; Borole, A.P., “Biocatalysis in oil refining”. Elsevier: Amsterdam, 2007; Vol. 164, p 418.

Photo of Abhijeet Borole

Contact Information

  • Joint Institute of Biological Sciences
  • Phone: (865) 576-7421
  • E-mail:

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