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Abhijeet Borole.

Abhijeet Borole

Research Professor


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.

His research is focused on microbial electrolysis cells, microbial fuel cells, fermentation, and applications in the biorefinery and the oil and gas industry. He has published 65 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. His main goal is to develop the waste to hydrogen pathway using bioelectrochemical systems, which can impact the waste problem, availability of zero emission fuel and climate change. He co-founded a startup, Electro-Active Technologies to commercialize this technology.

He has collaborated with most major energy companies including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, ChevronTexaco, 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 and The Open Biotechnology Journal.

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


graphic demonstrating the conversion of waste to bioenergy Research Areas:

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. Borole is bringing together faculty members from several departments via a Community of Scholars program at UT to advance the Circular BioEconomy.

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.


PhD, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

MS, The University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

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


  • Borole, A.P. "Improving energy efficiency and enabling water recycle in biorefineries using bioelectrochemical cells." Biofuels, Bioproducts & Biorefining 5, 28-36 (2011).
  • Ren, S., Ye, P., Borole, A.P., Kim, P. & Labbe, N. "Analysis of switchgrass-derived bio-oil and associated aqueous phase generated in a pilot-scale auger pyrolyzer." J. Appl. & Anal. Pyrolysis 119, 97-103 (2016).
  • Ichihashi, O., Vishnivetskaya, T. & Borole, A.P. "High-Performance Bioanode Development for Fermentable Substrates via Controlled Electroactive Biofilm Growth." ChemElectroChem 1, 1940-1947 (2014).
  • Borole, A.P. "Microbial Fuel Cells and Microbial Electrolyzers." The Electrochemical Society - Interface 24, 55-59 (2015).
  • Lewis, A.J. & Borole, A.P. "Understanding the impact of flow rate and recycle on the conversion of a complex biorefinery stream using a flow-through microbial electrolysis cell." Biochemical Engineering Journal 116, 95-104 (2016).
  • Lewis, A.J., Campa, M., Hazen, T.C. & Borole, A.P. "Unravelling biocomplexity of electroactive biofilms for producing hydrogen from biomass." Microbial Biotechnology 11, DOI: 10.1111/1751-7915.12756, 84-97 (2018).
  • Park, L.K. et al. "Separation of Switchgrass Bio-oil by Water/Organic Solvent Addition and pH Adjustment." Energy Fuels 30 2164–2173 (2016).
  • Borole, A.P. et al. "Electroactive biofilms: Current status and future research needs." Energy Environ. Sci. 4, 4813-4834 (2011).
  • Zeng, X., Collins, M.A., Borole, A.P. & Pavlostathis, S.G. "The extent of fermentative transformation of phenolic compounds in the bioanode controls exoelectrogenic activity in a microbial electrolysis cell." Wat. Res. 109, 299-309 (2017).
  • Pannell, T.C., Goud, R.K., Schell, D.J. & Borole, A.P. "Effect of fed-batch vs. continuous mode of operation on microbial fuel cell performance treating biorefinery wastewater." Biochemical Engineering Journal 116, 85-94 (2016).

View his Google Scholar profile.

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.

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Abhijeet Borole.

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