Artificial gills for robots: MFC behaviour in water
Ieropoulos, I., Melhuish, C. and Greenman, J. (2007) Artificial gills for robots: MFC behaviour in water. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2 (3). S83. ISSN 1748-3182
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-3182/2/3/S02
This paper reports on the first stage in developing microbial fuel cells (MFCs) which can operate underwater by utilizing dissolved oxygen. In this context, the cathodic half-cell is likened to an artificial gill. Such an underwater power generator has obvious potential for autonomous underwater robots. The electrical power from these devices increased proportionately with water flow rate, temperature and salinity. The current output at ambient temperature (null condition) was 32 µA and this increased by 200% (~100 µA) as a result of a corresponding temperature increase (ΔT) of 52 °C. Similarly, the effect of increasing the water flow rate resulted in an increase in the MFC output ranging from 135% to 150%. Furthermore, the same positive effect was recorded when artificial seawater was used instead, in which case the increase in the MFC current output was >100% (from 32 to 65 µA). There was a distinct difference in the MFC performance when operated under low turbulent as opposed to high turbulent flow rates. These findings can be advantageous in the design of underwater autonomous robots.