Bio-analytical applications of microbial fuel cell–based biosensors for onsite water quality monitoring

A. ElMekawy, H. M. Hegab, D. Pant, C. P. Saint

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Globally, sustainable provision of high-quality safe water is a major challenge of the 21st century. Various chemical and biological monitoring analytics are presently utilized to guarantee the availability of high-quality water. However, these techniques still face some challenges including high costs, complex design and onsite and online limitations. The recent technology of using microbial fuel cell (MFC)-based biosensors holds outstanding potential for the rapid and real-time monitoring of water source quality. MFCs have the advantages of simplicity in design and efficiency for onsite sensing. Even though some sensing applications of MFCs were previously studied, e.g. biochemical oxygen demand sensor, recently numerous research groups around the world have presented new practical applications of this technique, which combine multidisciplinary scientific knowledge in materials science, microbiology and electrochemistry fields. This review presents the most updated research on the utilization of MFCs as potential biosensors for monitoring water quality and considers the range of potentially toxic analytes that have so far been detected using this methodology. The advantages of MFCs over established technology are also considered as well as future work required to establish their routine use.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)302-313
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • biosensors
  • microbial fuel cells
  • onsite monitoring
  • wastewater treatment
  • water quality


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