Shows direct correlation between current levels and rates of microbial activity providing real time data of microbial degradable pollutants and the statues of bioremediation.
Current microbial fuel cell technology for estimating rates of microbial metabolism involve expensive and sophisticated analytical techniques which require samples to be incubated thus dramatically changing the rate of microbial activity. Dr. Lovley’s lab group has developed a novel microbial activity sensor functions in situ for monitoring microbial activity in real time of anaerobic soils, sediments, and groundwater by demonstrating a direct correlation between current levels and rates of microbial activity. This novel invention can be applied to estimate rates in a wide range of soils and sediments as well as heterogeneities in microbial activity both horizontally and vertically. The monitoring system consists of a non-poised graphite anode that is embedded in the anaerobic environment connected to an inexpensive resistor that leads to a conductive cathode. The cathode is situated on the surface of the environment and is comprised of electrically conductive material. The anode is colonized by indigenous microorganisms capable of oxidizing organic compounds and hydrogen with electron transfer to the anode. The current between the anode and the cathode is then recorded with a commonplace device that measures electric current.
This novel invention is an advanced real time sensor that provides information on microbial degradable pollutants and the status of bioremediation. This microbial activity sensor allows continuous monitoring of natural activity of a diverse group of indigenous microorganisms without disturbing the soils and sediments.