Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plankton Power: Organic Matter Harnessed In Underwater Fuel Cells

Date:
September 21, 2001
Source:
Office Of Naval Research
Summary:
ONR’s oceanic fuel cell is called OSCAR (Ocean Sediment Carbon Aerobic Reactor). Organic matter in the sediment serves as the fuel which is connected to dissolved oxygen in the sea water by electrodes, allowing electrons to flow in the same manner as a conventional fuel cell. Microorganisms that naturally inhabit the sediment and sea water speed up the electron flow.

For hundreds of millions of years, plankton — those tiny drifting sea creatures found throughout the ocean – have been raining unceasingly on the sea floor as individuals die. There they’ve been deposited as organic (reduced carbon) matter in the sediment.

Related Articles


This organic matter is a rich and practically inexhaustible source of energy for animals and microorganisms that normally live at the bottom of the sea. Research jointly funded by the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is trying to harness just a small portion of this energy to power up small remote instruments.

ONR’s oceanic fuel cell is called OSCAR (Ocean Sediment Carbon Aerobic Reactor). Organic matter in the sediment serves as the fuel which is connected to dissolved oxygen in the sea water by electrodes, allowing electrons to flow in the same manner as a conventional fuel cell. Microorganisms that naturally inhabit the sediment and sea water speed up the electron flow.

Early versions of OSCAR in place off the New Jersey and Oregon coasts are generating about 50 milliwatts per square meter of electrode at about 0.7 volts, about the power required for a small calculator, say the researchers from the Naval Research Laboratory, Oregon State University and the University of Massachusetts.

“Obviously, the bigger and more efficient the fuel cell electrodes are, the more power you’ll get,” explains Dr. Harold Bright, Office of Naval Research program manager for OSCAR. “OSCAR’s unique advantage, compared to state-of-the-art sea batteries, is that it can produce small levels of power continuously and indefinitely. The day may come when we’ll be able to use future versions of OSCAR to power ocean monitoring instruments such as ocean current meters and temperature and salinity probes. As it is now, ships have to go out every year or so to replace their sea batteries.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Office Of Naval Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Office Of Naval Research. "Plankton Power: Organic Matter Harnessed In Underwater Fuel Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010920071528.htm>.
Office Of Naval Research. (2001, September 21). Plankton Power: Organic Matter Harnessed In Underwater Fuel Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010920071528.htm
Office Of Naval Research. "Plankton Power: Organic Matter Harnessed In Underwater Fuel Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/09/010920071528.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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