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Microbial power at the seafloor

Clare E. Reimers, Ph.D.
Oregon State University

Wednesday, April 30, 2003
3:00 p.m. Pacific Forum

clareRedox processes in the ocean are fueled by organic matter as the ultimate reductant and oxygen as the ultimate oxidant. A fuel cell consisting of an anode embedded in marine sediment and a cathode in overlying water can, with the aid of microorganisms, use these reactants to produce electrical power. This form of power generation has been demonstrated at two coastal sites and may eventually be used to power autonomous instruments in the ocean. Development efforts are focusing on experimentation with variable electrode geometries for greater power return, studies of kinetic enhancements of electrodes with immobilized bacterial cells or chemical catalysts, and deployments in sulfide-rich gas hydrate deposits.

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