Biotechnology Letters

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 553–558 | Cite as

A novel minimally invasive method for monitoring oxygen in microbial fuel cells

  • A. S. Vishwanathan
  • Govind Rao
  • S. Siva Sankara Sai
Original Research Paper


Oxygen availability is a potential rate-limiting step in the bioelectrochemical process catalyzed by microbes in microbial fuel cells (MFC). Determination of oxygen availability using a minimally invasive oxygen sensor is advantageous in terms of ease of usage, maintenance and cost-effectiveness as compared to using conventional probe-type oxygen sensors. The utility of this method is substantiated by using this sensor to demonstrate the relationship between oxygen availability and current density. 10 % drop in oxygen concentration resulted in a concomitant drop in current density by about 36 %, further establishing the criticality of monitoring oxygen levels in the MFC. The detachable sensor membrane of the minimally invasive sensor confers multiple advantages. The novel method would enable real-time monitoring of oxygen in MFCs, simplify process optimization and validation and more importantly, provide an impetus for development of more efficient MFC designs.


Microbial fuel cell Non-invasive oxygen sensor Oxygen availability 



The authors dedicate this paper to Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the founding chancellor of the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning. The NIO sensor donation from Fluorometrix is gratefully acknowledged. GR is a co-founder of Fluorometrix and has a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. S. Vishwanathan
    • 1
  • Govind Rao
    • 2
  • S. Siva Sankara Sai
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiosciencesSri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi NilayamPuttaparthiIndia
  2. 2.Center for Advanced Sensor Technology, Department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsSri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prasanthi NilayamPuttaparthiIndia

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