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

M Di Lorenzo, Alexander R. Thomson, Kenneth Schneider, Petra J Cameron, Ioannis Ieropoulosc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Citations (Scopus)
233 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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 3–164 ppm, with a sensitivity of 0.05 μA mM−1cm−2 with respect to the anode total surface area. The response time was as fast as 2.8 minutes.

At saturating acetate concentrations (COD>164 ppm), the miniature SCMFC could rapidly detect the presence of cadmium in water with high sensitivity (0.2 μg l−1 cm−2) and a lower detection limit of only 1 μg l−1. The biosensor dynamic range was 1–25 μg l−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 12 minutes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-188
JournalBiosensors and Bioelectronics
Volume62
Early online date30 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014

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