Celle a combustibile microbiche come biosensori per il monitoraggio in tempo reale di sostanze tossiche e cancerogene

Many organic substances and heavy metals enter the environment as a result of production processes or as industrial waste at the end of the working cycle, causing certain cases of serious soil and water pollution. Metals are also contaminants of urban and industrial wastewaters. Recently, the partners in this project have demonstrated the ability to apply the innovative technology of microbial fuel cells to the monitoring of waters with low organic matter concentrations, providing small electrical power for the remote monitoring instrument supply. Microbial fuel cells, in fact, is an innovative system that obtains electricity directly from the (oxidative) degradation process of organic matter dissolved in water by exoelectrogenic bacteria.

The aim of the project is to set up and validate specific electrodes made of carbon-based composite materials, suitably functionalized to be used in MFC and other bioelectrochemical systems, with high sensitivity to organic pollution (expressed in BOD; TOC / BOD; COD) and/or heavy metals (Cd, As, Pb, Cu, Cr, F, and others).

A bioelectrochemical system with high selectivity for a single organic aromatic and recalcitrant organic pollutant (for example, benzene), and a selective system for individual metallic species will be designed and characterized.

The research is supported by INAIL (Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro – the Italian institute for worker health and safety) and involves:

  • Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Universitá degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
  • Department of Chemistry, Universitá degli Studi di Milano