Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A single-chamber microbial fuel cell as a biosensor for wastewaters

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, Professor Thomas CurtisORCiD, Professor Ian Head, Emeritus Professor Keith Scott



The traditional 5-day test of the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5 test) has many disadvantages, and principally it is unsuitable for process control and real-time monitoring. As an alternative, a single-chamber microbial fuel cell (SCMFC) with an air cathode was tested as a biosensor and the performance analysed in terms of its measurement range, its response time, its reproducibility and its operational stability. When artificial wastewater was used as fuel, the biosensor output had a linear relationship with the BOD concentration up to 350 mg BOD cm−3; very high reproducibility; and stability over 7 months of operation. The system was further improved by reducing by 75% the total anolyte volume. In this way a response time close to the hydraulic retention time (HRT) of the biosensor (i.e. 40 min) was reached. When the small volume SCMFC biosensor was fed with real wastewater a good correlation between COD concentration and current output was obtained, demonstrating the applicability of this system to real effluents. The measurements obtained with the biosensor were also in accordance with values obtained with standard measurement methods.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Di Lorenzo M, Curtis TP, Head IM, Scott K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water Research

Year: 2009

Volume: 43

Issue: 13

Pages: 3145-3154

Date deposited: 11/06/2010

ISSN (print): 0043-1354

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2448

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.01.005


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
MTKD-CT-2004-517215European Union for Transfer of Knowledge