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Sensors 2018, 18(1), 71;

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

Department of Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago 7820436, Chile
Centro de Desarrollo Urbano Sustentable (CEDEUS), Santiago 7520246, Chile
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)
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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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