Operational Assessment of a Sediment Microbial Fuel Cell Power
Source for Navy-Relevant Sensor Technologies
cell test deployment in San Diego Bay.
Sediment-based microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are fueled by
organic detritus populations in marine sediment and have the
potential to provide continuous remote
power that is environmentally sustainable. Sediment MFCs
are open and exposed to the marine environment which can affect
reliability. In this effort, the operational potential
sediment MFC designs as a power supply for Navy-relevant
seafloor sensors was evaluated.
Performance of two basic
microbial fuel cell designs powering nodes of a hydrophone
array were tested. One type of fuel cell taps the voltage
gradient across the marine sediment water interface, maintained
by microbial oxidation of organics at an anode in the sediment
and reduction of dissolved oxygen at a cathode in the overlying
The other fuel cell type taps the voltage gradient between
microbial oxidation in the sediment at the anode and reduction
of manganese oxide, microbially maintained on a metal cathode
surface (see Wotawa-Bergen et al., 2010, for details).
The prototypes were tested to power hydrophones
that are currently being used to track
acoustically-tagged green sea turtles in San Diego Bay.
- Pier facilities
- Diver support services
- Ocean engineering expertise
- Acoustic tracking systems
- Autonomous monitoring and surveillance systems
- Wotawa-Bergen, A.Q., D.B. Chadwick,
K.E. Richter, L.M. Tender, C.E. Reimers, and Y. Gong. 2010. Operational
testing of sediment microbial fuel cells in San Diego Bay, OCEANS
2010, Seattle, WA, September 20-23, 2010.
- Richter, K., D.B. Chadwick, and
L.M. Tender. 2010. Microbial
fuel cell design sufficient to power a hydrophone over
a several month period, 217th Electrochemical Society
Meeting, Vancouver B.C., April 24-29, 2010.