Worldwide contamination of the aquatic environment with heavy metals (such as Fe, Co, Ni, Se, Zn, Pb, and Ni) and organic compounds has become a major concern, disturbing the natural functions of rivers/lakes and ponds, causing ecological and health problems. The microbial fuel cell (MFC) is a special form of a fuel cell in which bacteria catalyze the oxidation of organics and produces electricity. MFCs could provide an elegant novel ecotechnology, combining the clean-up of the pollutants (organic matter, metals or sulfate) with electricity production. This IEF will study a particular form of MFCs, that can easily be integrated in natural treatment systems: sediment fuel cells (SFCs). SFCs rely on the natural voltage gradient between the sediments and the overlying seawater. This gradient is created by microbial oxidation of subfloor organics, which results in the generation of electron-rich reductants such as Fe2+ or HS-. However, SFCs are still facing a challenge for consistent power production over extended periods. The composition, mechanisms involved in electroactive biofilms remained largely unknown and the potential of SFCs for metal polluted aquatic environments (MPAE) have not been explored yet. This IEF will develop a novel SFC, which will be tested on MPAEs, both polluted natural fresh and sea water. Thus, this IEF will contribute to the development of a cost effective alternative to current fuel utilization. The novel SFC will be evaluated as a function of organics/metals turnover and specific power production rates and in parallel, novel analytical techniques/methods to enhance/measure the biofilm activity (electrochemical). Finally, a prototype will be tested. This IEF will provide a tool and an instrumental role for water frame work Directive 2000/60/EC of the EU and Directive 2006/21/EC on management of industrial waste. This IEF falls into the category of renewable energy policy of EU, using sediment organic/inorganic pollutants as energy precursor.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/electrochemistry/electrolysis
- /engineering and technology/environmental engineering/energy and fuels/fuel cell
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/inorganic chemistry/metals
- /natural sciences/chemical sciences/organic chemistry
Call for proposal
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