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A small-scale air-cathode microbial fuel cell for on-line monitoring of water quality

Di Lorenzo, Mirella; Thomson, Alexander R.; Schneider, Kenneth; Cameron, Petra J.; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Mirella Di Lorenzo

Alexander R. Thomson

Kenneth Schneider

Petra J. Cameron


The heavy use of chemicals for agricultural, industrial and domestic purposes has increased the risk of freshwater contamination worldwide. Consequently, the demand for efficient new analytical tools for on-line and on-site water quality monitoring has become particularly urgent.In this study, a small-scale single chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cell (SCMFC), fabricated by rapid prototyping layer-by-layer 3D printing, was tested as a biosensor for continuous water quality monitoring.When acetate was fed as the rate-limiting substrate, the SCMFC acted as a sensor for chemical oxygen demand (COD) in water. The linear detection range was 3-164ppm, with a sensitivity of 0.05μAmM-1cm-2 with respect to the anode total surface area. The response time was as fast as 2.8min.At saturating acetate concentrations (COD>164 ppm), the miniature SCMFC could rapidly detect the presence of cadmium in water with high sensitivity (0.2μgl-1cm-2) and a lower detection limit of only 1μgl-1. The biosensor dynamic range was 1-25μgl-1. Within this range of concentrations, cadmium affected only temporarily the electroactive biofilm at the anode. When the SCMFCs were again fed with fresh wastewater and no pollutant, the initial steady-state current was recovered within 12min. © 2014 .


Di Lorenzo, M., Thomson, A. R., Schneider, K., Cameron, P. J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014). A small-scale air-cathode microbial fuel cell for on-line monitoring of water quality. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 62, 182-188.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2014
Publication Date Dec 15, 2014
Journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics
Print ISSN 0956-5663
Electronic ISSN 1873-4235
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 62
Pages 182-188
Keywords microbial fuel cell, biosensor, water quality, BOD, cadmium
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