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Sensors 2018, 18(1), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/s18010071

A New Method for Sensing Soil Water Content in Green Roofs Using Plant Microbial Fuel Cells

1
Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
2
Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable (CEDEUS), Santiago 7520246, Chile
3
Instituto de Ciencias Agronómicas, Universidad de O’Higgins, Rancagua 2840856, Chile
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 26 December 2017 / Published: 28 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Monitoring Biosensors)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [2512 KB, uploaded 28 December 2017]   |  

Abstract

Green roofs have many benefits, but in countries with semiarid climates the amount of water needed for irrigation is a limiting factor for their maintenance. The use of drought-tolerant plants such as Sedum species, reduces the water requirements in the dry season, but, even so, in semiarid environments these can reach up to 60 L m−2 per day. Continuous substrate/soil water content monitoring would facilitate the efficient use of this critical resource. In this context, the use of plant microbial fuel cells (PMFCs) emerges as a suitable and more sustainable alternative for monitoring water content in green roofs in semiarid climates. In this study, bench and pilot-scale experiments using seven Sedum species showed a positive relationship between current generation and water content in the substrate. PMFC reactors with higher water content (around 27% vs. 17.5% v/v) showed larger power density (114.6 and 82.3 μW m−2 vs. 32.5 μW m−2). Moreover, a correlation coefficient of 0.95 (±0.01) between current density and water content was observed. The results of this research represent the first effort of using PMFCs as low-cost water content biosensors for green roofs. View Full-Text
Keywords: biosensor; green roof; microbial fuel cells; Sedum; soil water content biosensor; green roof; microbial fuel cells; Sedum; soil water content
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Tapia, N.F.; Rojas, C.; Bonilla, C.A.; Vargas, I.T. A New Method for Sensing Soil Water Content in Green Roofs Using Plant Microbial Fuel Cells. Sensors 2018, 18, 71.

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