Date of Award

Summer 2012

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Science

Committee Chair

Karen Orcutt

Committee Chair Department

Marine Science

Committee Member 2

Stephan Howden

Committee Member 2 Department

Marine Science

Committee Member 3

Joe Griffitt


Research on the power production of the microbial fuel cell has increased in the past decade. The sediment microbial fuel cell is a type of fuel cell that uses the environment of submerged sediments to provide a natural voltage difference. The fuel cell is comprised of an anode buried in the sediment and a cathode that is held in the overlying water column. The process of electron transfer to the anode is catalyzed by anaerobic bacteria in the sediment. The anaerobic bacteria have that are able to catalyze the electron transfer have been termed exoelectrogenic. The increase in scientific research of microbial fuel cell technology is based on increasing the efficiency of the fuel cell by modifying the components of the fuel cell, or studying the microbiology which catalyzes the electrochemistry of the system. The increase of efficiency in sediment microbial fuel cells may lead to the powering of oceanographic senor systems, for increase deployment times, and reduce the quantity of batteries needed for these systems. This study has two components, firstly, the comparison of power production from anode material with differing surface area and porosity properties, and secondly, to detect and relatively quantify the exoelectrogenic bacteria that may form biofilms on the anode material. A test tank was used to compare the different types of anode material under controlled conditions, keeping the temperature, salinity, oxygen content, and the flow of interstitial water across the anode material, as stable as possible. The second part of the study was completed by using relative real-time polymerase chain reaction method and aragose gel electrophoresis.