The ocean is an underwater world of wonders, many of which are yet to be discovered. But there’s also a lot of gunk down there, gunk decomposed marine organisms that have had little else to do but float around and look disgusting — until now. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has announced development of a microbial fuel cell that can convert those icky decomposing organisms into electricity.
“These fuel cells convert naturally occurring fuels and oxidants in the marine environment into electricity,” explains the ONR, “offering a clean, efficient and reliable alternative to batteries and other environmentally harmful fuels.” Anointed one of the top 50 inventions of 2009 by Time Magazine, the microbial cell should be a power source for long-term operation of autonomous, unmanned underwater vehicles and other devices designed for use under the sea.
The microbial fuel cell is also environmentally friendly: given the cell’s return of clean energy, the ONR believes it will play a part in reducing carbon emissions in the environment, as well as change the way we fuel our homes and vehicles.