Single chamber air-cathode microbial fuel cells as biosensors for determination of biodegradable organics

Bálint Lóránt, Miklós Gyalai-Korpos, Igor Goryanin, Gábor Márk Tardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Single chamber air cathode microbial fuel cells (MFCs) were investigated with sodium-acetate and peptone as test substrates to assess the potential for application as biosensor to determine the concentration of biodegradable organics in water/wastewater samples.

Results: MFCs provided well-reproducible performance at high (> 2000 mg COD l−1—Chemical Oxygen Demand) acetate concentration values. Current in the cells proved to be steady from 25 to 35 °C, significant decrease was, however, revealed in the current below 20 °C. Direct calculation of non-toxic biodegradable substrate concentration in water/wastewater from the current in MFCs is possible only in the non-saturated substrate concentration range due to the Monod-like dependence of the current. This range was determined by a fitted and verified Monod-based kinetic model. Half saturation constant (KS) values were calculated at 30 °C applying different external resistance values (100 Ω, 600 Ω and 1000 Ω, respectively). In each case KS remained below 10 mg COD l−1.
Conclusions: Biosensors with this particular MFC design and operation are potentially applicable for detecting as low as 5 mg COD l−1 readily biodegradable substrates, and measuring the concentration of these substances up to ~ 50–70 mg COD l−1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-563
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology letters
Issue number4-5
Early online date3 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Air
  • Biodegradable Plastics/analysis
  • Bioelectric Energy Sources/microbiology
  • Biosensing Techniques/methods
  • Electricity
  • Electrodes
  • Organic Chemicals/analysis
  • Peptones/analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sodium Acetate/analysis
  • Temperature


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