Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Energy From The Sea Floor Could Power Oceanographic Equipment

Date:
January 10, 2001
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Fuel cells powered by energy from the sea floor could indefinitely supply electricity to instruments used to monitor ocean currents and water temperatures, according to a report in the December 28 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Fuel cells powered by energy from the sea floor could indefinitely supply electricity to instruments used to monitor ocean currents and water temperatures, according to a report in the December 28 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Fuel cells convert chemical energy to electrical energy. The small, lightweight devices have been likened to cleaner, safer batteries that never run down. Fuel cell technology has been used by NASA for onboard power during space flight and is currently being investigated for use in automobiles and home power.

The researchers found that the electrical potential of sediment on the sea floor differs from the electrical potential of the surrounding salt water, according to Leonard Tender, a co-author of the study from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Collecting power from that difference could supply energy for fuel cells for self-sustaining oceanographic equipment, he said.

Organic matter in sediment on the ocean floor ordinarily releases energy as it decays. In shallow waters (less than 1,000 meters, or 3,280 feet), that energy is concentrated just below the ocean floor. Energy for the fuel cell - like the voltage between opposite poles of a battery - comes from a reaction involving chemicals released from the buried sediment and the oxygen, according to Clare Reimers, a co-author of the paper from Oregon State University in Corvallis.

The battery-powered equipment now used for ocean monitoring must be periodically raised or replaced to replenish power, Tender said. This is a costly, time-consuming process, he added. In contrast, the fuel cell described in the research could be continually recharged by decaying marine organisms like plankton.

"These devices could significantly reduce the cost of ocean monitoring, which is important for naval and commercial marine operations and early warning of changes in marine ecosystems and resources," Reimers said.

In laboratory testing, the researchers were able to harvest approximately one microWatt of power per centimeter of fuel cell - the amount needed to power a small light-emitting diode, Tender said. The researchers are field-testing the fuel cells in the ocean and trying to get more power from them, he said.

"We calculate that optimized power supplies could run oceanographic instruments based on this phenomenon for routine long-term operations in the coastal ocean," Tender said.

The research cited above was funded by research grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research, both part of the US Department of Defense.

Clare Reimers, Ph.D., is director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies at Oregon State University in Newport, OR, and a professor in the college of oceanic and atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR.

Leonard Tender, Ph.D., is a researcher at the Center for Bio/Molecular Science and Engineering at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Energy From The Sea Floor Could Power Oceanographic Equipment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074614.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2001, January 10). Energy From The Sea Floor Could Power Oceanographic Equipment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074614.htm
American Chemical Society. "Energy From The Sea Floor Could Power Oceanographic Equipment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010110074614.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins