Researchers are exploring the use of crab and lobster shells to power microbial fuel cells beneath the sea, which are used to power sensors for such measurements as temperature, pressure, salinity, density, turbidity or particulate content. They are also used to monitor around offshore drilling platforms, and for pollution or contamination.
While the team has not tested the marine microbial fuel cell in the ocean sediment, they did create a fuel cell in the laboratory consisting of a glass bottle with the anode embedded in the sediment on the bottom and the carbon paper and platinum cathode suspended in the water. In the ocean, no container is needed, but the anode and cathode must be close enough together so the protons or positive charge can pass through the water to the cathode.
The researchers tested two different sizes of chitin, one finer than the other and found that both increased power production over the same set up without the additional bacterial food supply. However, the finer particles produced almost twice the power as the larger particles, suggesting that the bacteria can more easily consume the smaller particles.