Mud-Fueled Smart Sensors for the Bottom of the Ocean

By Crispin Andrews

If you put tiny electrodes in the mud on the ocean floor, you can harvest enough energy to power a tiny sensor platform that can monitor what’s going on at those depths.

So say researchers from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, in a recent issue of IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems I. Together with collaborators from Korea and California, they have designed a self-sustaining sensor platform for oceanic sensing applications that is powered entirely by small-scale benthic microbial fuel cells.

“We wanted a platform that could run off very small harvesting sources,” Michigan electrical engineering professor and IEEE Fellow David Blaauwtells IEEE Spectrum. “If you can get power consumption down enough, there are all sorts of things you can use. Even plants produce little bits of voltage,” he says. …[Read more]