Prof. dr. ir. Korneel Rabaey

Telephone number: 
+32 9/264 59 76
Faculty staff


  • PhD in Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University 2005
  • Bio-Engineer spec. Environmental Technology, Ghent University 2001

Professional & Research Activities

Korneel Rabaey (20/11/1977) is professor at the Department of Biotechnology at Ghent University as well as honorary professor at The University of Queensland. He is one of the founders and the present Chief Technology Oofficer of CAPTURE ( ), a centre focusing on resource recovery in the fields of Water, Carbon Capture and Utilization and Plastics to Resource. He is founder of HYDROHM ( ), a company focusing on electrification in the water sector. His main research efforts are on resource recovery from wastewater, decentralized treatments, industrial liquid sidestreams and CO2 streams from industry. Typically a combination of electrochemical and/or microbial approaches is used to achieve formation of added value products. He is the author or co-author of over 200 refereed articles attracting over 34000 citations, listing him as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. He is Fellow of the International Water Association and was laureate of the Royal Academy (Belgium) in 2016. He is executive editor in chief of Environmental Science & Ecotechnology, as well as Editorial Advisory Board member for Environmental Science & Technology.

Principles behind our research

  1. The advent of activated sludge in the early 20th century undoubtedly saved millions of lives. Whereas it is A solution, it is clear that we rely on recovery of the water, carbon, energy and nutrients to achieve a circular society. 
  2. We need to move away from the waste stamp and consider fully our resources in an opportunistic way: 
    • Salts in wastewater are not to be put at high energy cost in a brine for discharge. We need to convert them to useful salts such as NaOH, phosphoric acid, NaHS and whatever we know the market asks for 
    • Organic side streams should become a basis for the production of chemicals in demand. Examples are the production of microbial protein for feed and food, caproic acid as antibiotics replacement and the production of esters from short chain fatty acids. 
    • CO2 coming from industrial sites should be considered as a major opportunity for large scale production of organic chemicals. A western European society has, beyond agriculture at its summum, not much more than CO2 and light to make a living
  3. Interdisciplinary thinking is essential to progress technology
  4. All focus has been on the water – energy nexus whereas the chemistry – water nexus is probably far more problematic
Selected key publications: 
Rabaey, K., N. Boon, S. D. Siciliano, M. Verhaege, and W. Verstraete (2004) Biofuel cells select for microbial consortia that self-mediate electron transfer. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 70:5373-5382. (SCI 3.810; 16/133)
Rabaey, K., N. Boon, M. Höfte, and W. Verstraete. 2005. Microbial phenazine production enhances electron transfer in biofuel cells. Environmental Science and Technology 39: 3401-3408. (SCI 4.054; 1/37)
Rabaey, K., and W. Verstraete. 2005. Microbial fuel cells: novel biotechnology for energy generation. Trends in Biotechnology 23: 291-298 (SCI 7.955; 5/139)
Logan, B., P. Aelterman, B. Hamelers, R. Rozendal, U. Schroder, J. Keller, S. Freguia, W. Verstraete, and K. Rabaey. 2006. Microbial fuel cells: methodology and technology. Environmental Science & Technology 40:5181-5192. (SCI 4.040; 1/35)
Dutta, P. K., K. Rabaey, Z. G. Yuan, and J. Keller. 2008. Spontaneous electrochemical removal of aqueous sulfide. Water Research 42:4965-4975. (SCI 4.355; 1/45)
Rabaey, K., Bützer, S., Brown, S., Keller, J. & Rozendal, R.A. 2010. High current generation coupled to caustic production using a lamellar bioelectrochemical system. Environ. Sci. Technol. 44:4315-4321. (SCI 4.827; 2/45)
Desloover, J., A. Abate Woldeyohannis, W. Verstraete, N. Boon, and K. Rabaey. 2012. Electrochemical Resource Recovery from Digestate to Prevent Ammonia Toxicity during Anaerobic Digestion. Environmental Science & Technology 46:12209-12216. (SCI 4.827; 2/45)
Rabaey, K. and Rozendal, R.A. 2010. Microbial electrosynthesis: revisiting the electrical route for bioproduction. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 8: 706-716. (SCI 20.686;1/107)
Logan, B. E., and K. Rabaey. 2012. Conversion of wastes into bioelectricity and chemicals using microbial electrochemical technologies. Science 337(6095):686-690 (SCI 31.377; 2/59)
Xu J., Guzman J. J. L., Andersen S. J., Rabaey K. and Angenent L. T. (2015). In-line and selective phase separation of medium-chain carboxylic acids using membrane electrolysis. Chemical Communications. Vol. 51, No. 31, pp. 6847-6850.