A novel bioelectrochemical BOD sensor operating with voltage input
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2012

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is a measure of biodegradable compounds in water and is, for example, a common parameter to design and assess the performance of wastewater treatment plants. The conventional method to measure BOD is time consuming (5 or 7 days) and requires trained personnel. Bioelectrochemical BOD sensors designed as microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are systems where bacteria convert organic matter into an electrical current, have emerged as an alternative to the conventional technique. In this study, a new type of bioelectrochemical BOD sensor with features that overcome some of the limitations of current MFC-type designs was developed: (1) An external voltage was applied to overcome internal resistances and allow bacteria to generate current at their full capacity, and (2) the ion exchange membrane was omitted to avoid pH shifts that would otherwise limit the applicability of the sensor for wastewaters with low alkalinity. The sensor was calibrated with an aerated nutrient medium containing acetate as the BOD source. Linear correlation (R2 = 0.97) with charge was obtained for BOD concentrations ranging from 32 to 1280 mg/L in a reaction time of 20 h. Lowering the reaction time to 5 h resulted in lowering the measurable BOD concentration range to 320 mg/L (R2 = 0.99). Propionate, glucose, and ethanol could also be analyzed by the sensor that was acclimated to acetate. The study demonstrates a way to design more robust and simple bioelectrochemical BOD sensors that do not suffer from the usual limitations of MFCs (high internal resistance and pH shifts).

Microbial electrolysis cell

Bioelectrochemical system

Biochemical oxygen demand



Oskar Modin

Chalmers, Bygg- och miljöteknik, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Britt-Marie Wilen

Chalmers, Bygg- och miljöteknik, Vatten Miljö Teknik

Water Research

0043-1354 (ISSN) 1879-2448 (eISSN)

Vol. 46 18 6113-6120



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