Effect of internal and external resistances on desalination in microbial desalination cell

Sadik Rahman, Abdullah Al-Mamun*, Tahereh Jafary, Halima Alhimali, Mahad Said Baawain

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The green and cost-effective nature of the microbial desalination cell (MDC) make it a promising alternative for future sustainable desalination. However, MDC suffers from a low desalination rate that inhibits it being commercialized. External resistance (Rext) is one of the factors that significantly affect the desalination rate in MDCs, which is still under debate. This research, for the first time, investigated the impact of Rext on MDCs with different internal resistance (Rint) of the system to discover the optimal range of Rext for efficient MDC performance. The results showed that the effect of Rext on desalination rate (2.52 mg/h) was quite low when the Rint of MDC was high (200 Ω). However, operating the MDC with a low Rint (67 Ω) significantly improved the desalination rate (9.85 mg/h) and current generation. When MDC was operated with a low Rint the effect of variable Rext on desalination and current generation was noticeable. Therefore, low Rint (67 Ω) MDC was used to select the optimum Rext when the optimal range was found to be Rext ≪ Rint, Rext < Rint, Rext ≈ Rint (ranging from 1–69 Ω) to achieve the highest desalination rates (10.41–8.59 mg/h). The results showed the superior effect of Rint on desalination rate before selecting the optimal range of Rext in the outer circuit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2389-2403
Number of pages15
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2021


  • External resistance
  • Internal resistance
  • Microbial desalination cell
  • | desalination rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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