Possibilities for application of sediment microbial fuel cells as biosensors for monitoring of recurrent water pollution with copper

  • 1 Faculty of Geology and Exploration – University of Mining and Geology, Bulgaria


Sediment microbial fuel cells (SMFCs) are special microbial fuel cells in which the anode is placed in the anaerobic sediment and the cathode is immersed in the surface layer of water. Natural electroactive bacteria decompose organic compounds in sediment, producing electrons and protons. The electrons reach the cathode through an external electrical circuit, while the protons pa ss through the soil layer, which acts as a kind of membrane. Oxygen is in many cases the preferred electron acceptor due to i ts presence in the cathode region and its high potential. Heavy metal ions and other compounds can also be reduced on the cathode, which will increase the energy generated. Based on the above characteristics, SMFCs would be suitable for application as biosensors and would be suitable for monitoring recurrent water pollution with heavy metals. In the present study, the possibility of application of SMFCs as biosensors for recurrent water pollution with copper has been studied. A high correlation was found between the concentration of copper ions and the voltage generated by SMFC, as the coefficient of determination reached 0.9921.



  1. Alipanahi, R., Rahimnejad, M., 2018. Effect of different ecosystems on generated power in sediment microbial fuel cell. Int. J. Energy Res. 42, 4891–4897
  2. Chunliu Wang, Helong Jiang, 2019, Real-time monitoring of sediment bulking through a multi-anode sediment microbial fuel cell as reliable biosensor, Science of the Total Environment 697 (2019) 134009
  3. Deng, H., Jiang, Y.B., Zhou, Y.W., Shen, K., Zhong,W.H., 2015. Using electrical signals of microbial fuel cells to detect copper stress on soil microorganisms. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 66, 369–377
  4. Di Lorenzo, M., Curtis, T.P., Heada, I.M., Scott, K., 2009. A single-chamber microbial fuel cell as a biosensor for wastewaters. Water Res. 43, 3145–3154
  5. Grattieri, M., Hasan, K., Minteer, S.D., 2017. Bioelectrochemical systems as a multipurpose biosensing tool: present perspective and future outlook. ChemElectroChem 4, 834–842
  6. Kim M., Sik Hyun M., Gadd G.M., Joo Kim H., A novel biomonitoring system using microbial fuel cells. J. Environ. Monit. 2017, 9, 1323–1328
  7. Na Song, He-Long Jiang, 2018, Effects of initial sediment properties on start-up times for sediment microbial fuel cells, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 43 (2018) 10082-10093
  8. Na Song, Zaisheng Yan, Huacheng Xu, Zongbao Yao, Changhui Wang, MoChen, Zhiwei Zhao, Zhaoliang Peng, Chunliu Wang, He-Long Jiang, 2019, Development of a sediment microbial fuel cell-based biosensor for simultaneous online monitoring of dissolved oxygen concentrations along various depths in lake water, Science of the Total Environment 673 (2019) 272–280
  9. Qing Zhao, Min Ji, Ruying Li, Zhiyong Jason Ren, 2017, Long-term performance of sediment microbial fuel cells with multiple anodes, Bioresource Technology 237, 178- 185
  10. Rasool Alipanahi, Mostafa Rahimnenjad, Ghasem Najafpour, 2019, Improvement of sediment microbial fuel cell performances by design and application of power management systems, International journal of hydrogen energy, 125-131
  11. Sajana T., Ghangrekar M., Mitra A., 2014, Effect of operating parameters on the performance of sediment
  12. microbial fuel cell treating aquaculture water, Aquac. Eng. 61, 17-26.
  13. Schneider, G., Kovács, T., Rákhely, G., Czeller, M., 2016. Biosensoric potential of microbial fuel cells. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 100, 7001–7009

Article full text

Download PDF