Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 831–841 | Cite as

Long-term electricity production from soil electrogenic bacteria and high-content screening of biofilm formation on the electrodes

  • Samuel Raj Babu Arulmani
  • Vimalan Jayaraj
  • Solomon RobinsonDavid JebakumarEmail author
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



This study was conducted to determine the existence of soil bacteria in soil by soil microbial fuel cell (SMFC). The main objectives were (1) to differentiate the type of soil which will influence the electricity production, (2) to demonstrate the impact of different volume of soil in the MFC and feeding MFC for long-term electricity production, and (3) to conclude that electricity production is directly proportional to the biofilm formation on the anode surface.

Materials and methods

MudWatt kits were purchased from Keego Technologies USA, and 22 identical SMFCs were designed to study the electricity production from agricultural soil (S1) and vermicompost soil (S2). Ten milliliters of bioslurry is fed in SMFC to study the stability of electricity production at different stages. Microbes were isolated and characterized from the surface of the electrode. Biofilm analyses were done by high-content screening (HCS) system using 10 μl of acridine orange (100 μg/ml) at different stages of biofilm, and scanning electron microscopy is applied to confirm the matured biofilm on the surface of the anode.

Results and discussion

Application of bioslurry at different stages of electricity production conquers the normal energy recovery of the SMFCs and S2 soil with bioslurry sample produced the highest open circuit voltage (OCV) of 2.8 V (460 days) and S1 soil sample with bioslurry produced 1.7 V (364 days). The difference between SMFCs and MudWatt kits significantly confirms that increasing the volume of soil in the anode part increases the electricity production. The maximum OCV of S1 and S2 in MudWatt kits were 1.5 V (90 days) and 1.8 V (190 days), respectively. Increased volume of soil in our SMFCs produce maximum OCV of 1.8 V (S1 for 173 days) and 2.2 V (S2 for 240 days), and HCS analysis of biofilm at different stages reveals that electricity production is directly proportional to the biofilm formation.


Thus, it was concluded that the nature of soil and soil bacterium is important for the electricity production, and S2 soil sample produces maximum electricity than the S1 soil sample. Feeding of SMFCs with bioslurry aids the long-term and stabilized electricity production in both the soil samples.


Biofilm Carbon fiber High-content screening Open-circuit voltage Soil microbial fuel cell 



This research work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology, India. The author is grateful to Mr. Keegan and the Keego Technologies LLC, Stanford, USA.

Supplementary material


A video of a Mini FAN motor in serial connections of MKU SMFCs (MP4 5385 kb)

11368_2015_1287_MOESM2_ESM.mp4 (7.2 mb)
ESM 2 A video of MudWatt Kit powering 1.5 V light emitting diode (LED) (MP4 7380 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Raj Babu Arulmani
    • 1
  • Vimalan Jayaraj
    • 1
  • Solomon RobinsonDavid Jebakumar
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Microbiology, School of BiotechnologyMadurai Kamaraj UniversityMaduraiIndia

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