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Water Quality Monitoring and Electricity from Wastewaters with Microbial Fuel Cells

Mirella Di LorenzoSpeaker

Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo


Tuesday 10th May at 5.15pm


Room 3.7, Building 3 West, University of Bath (Location and maps)


Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that, by taking advances of metabolic pathways in microorganisms, directly convert the chemical energy of organic compounds into electricity. In recent years, MFCs have raised great attention as sustainable and clean energy-conversion technology capable of utilising a wide range of organic fuels, including wastewater from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources.

The current generated by an MFC directly relates to the metabolic activity of the microorganism at the anode. As a consequence, any disturbance to this activity is translated into a rapid change in the electricity produced. If the MFC works at saturated fuel concentration and the operational conditions (pH, salinity, temperature and anode potential) are fixed, then variations in the current output can be associated with the presence of toxicants in the feeding stream. MFCs can therefore act as an online indicators for biologically active compounds in water.

The main strength of the MFC technology relies on its simplicity, stability, cost-effectiveness and possibility to operate infield and continuously. Finally, the electricity generated by the MFC opens up the prospective for self-powering operations.

This talk will showcase our recent results on the development and use of innovative miniature MFC devices as sensor for water quality monitoring as well as a technology to generate renewable energy from waste.