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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Jan 1;35(1):192-5.

Harvesting energy from the marine sediment--water interface.

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College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331, USA.


Pairs of platinum mesh or graphite fiber-based electrodes, one embedded in marine sediment (anode), the other in proximal seawater (cathode), have been used to harvest low-level power from natural, microbe established, voltage gradients at marine sediment-seawater interfaces in laboratory aquaria. The sustained power harvested thus far has been on the order of 0.01 W/m2 of electrode geometric area but is dependent on electrode design, sediment composition, and temperature. It is proposed that the sediment/anode-seawater/cathode configuration constitutes a microbial fuel cell in which power results from the net oxidation of sediment organic matter by dissolved seawater oxygen. Considering typical sediment organic carbon contents, typical fluxes of additional reduced carbon by sedimentation to sea floors < 1,000 m deep, and the proven viability of dissolved seawater oxygen as an oxidant for power generation by seawater batteries, it is calculated that optimized power supplies based on the phenomenon demonstrated here could power oceanographic instruments deployed for routine long-term monitoring operations in the coastal ocean.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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