Biological Systems Unit (Igor Goryanin)

Unit outline

Igor Goryanin

Biological Systems Unit

Adjunct Professor Igor Goryanin

goryanin at



The Biological Systems Unit research aims to develop scalable microbial fuel cell (MFC) technology for wastewater treatment applications. Within MFCs, complex interactions between microbes and with their constructed environment result in removal of organics from the wastewater and generation of electricity. We seek to understand and manipulate these interactions so as to improve MFC performance characteristics. To achieve this goal requires a multidisciplinary effort employing expertise from microbiology, chemistry, and engineering.

Our research Unit is investigating MFCs for treatment of a variety of agro-industrial wastewaters, including tofu manufacture, swine farming, winery, and awamori distillery wastewater. Conventional municipal, agricultural and industrial wastewater treatment systems are based on energy-intensive aerobic biological processes. At a laboratory and pilot scale, the anaerobic microbes within MFCs clean wastewater to an extent similar to that of conventional aeration technologies but at a fraction of the energy requirement. We are working to develop cost-effective improvements to MFC components that will allow for cost-effective scale-up for commercial use, including designing and testing new cathode catalysts in collaboration with our OIST colleagues at the Nanoparticle by Design and Coordination Chemistry and Catalysis Units. On the biological side, we carry out metagenomic whole-genome analysis of microbial communities and isolate individual strains of interest with the ultimate goal of building idealized communities for treatment of specific wastewaters.