Pesticide detection by a miniature microbial fuel cell under controlled operational disturbances

Jonathan Chouler, Mirella Di Lorenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (SciVal)
74 Downloads (Pure)


The Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) technology holds enormous potential for inexpensive real-time and onsite testing of water sources. With the intent of defining optimal operational conditions, we investigated the effect of environmental factors (changes in temperature, pH and ionic strength), on the performance of a single chamber miniature MFC sensor. The pH of the influent had the greatest effect on the MFC performance, with a 0.531 ± 0.064 µA cm-2 current variation per unit change of pH. Within the range tested, temperature and ionic strength had only a minor impact (0.010 ± 0.001 µA °C-1 cm-2 and of 0.027 ± 0.003 µA mS-1 cm cm-2 respectively). Under controlled operational conditions, for the first time, we demonstrated the ability of this biosensor to detect one of the most commonly applied pesticides worldwide, atrazine. The sensitivity to atrazine was 1.39 ± 0.26 ppm-1 cm-2, with a detection range of 0.05 – 0.3 ppm. Guidelines for systematic studies of MFC-biosensors for practical applications through a factorial design approach are also provided. Consequently, our work not only enforces the promise of miniature MFC-biosensors for organic pollutants detection in waters, but it also provides important directions towards future investigations for infield applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2231-2241
Number of pages11
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019


  • Atrazine
  • Biosensors
  • Factorial design
  • Formaldehyde
  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


Dive into the research topics of 'Pesticide detection by a miniature microbial fuel cell under controlled operational disturbances'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this