From: Bruce Sterling <>
Subject: Viridian Note 00134: Energy from Ocean Slime
To: Viridian List <>

Key concepts: abyssal bacteria, renewable energy

Attention Conservation Notice: It's an unlikely tale about powering up submersible gadgets with primeval slime.

Entries in the "Dead Mike" Design contest:

Viridian contests archive:

This contest expires in eight days: February 15, 02000.

A New Viridian Individual Project
From:^******* (Reid Harward)
Reid Harward dramatizes a Viridian Imaginary Product. The animated .gif frames load up individually, then cascade.

Link: The President of the United States has given his
home an ambitious Green makeover.

Source: New Scientist magazine, February 5, 02000

Swell pic of Dr. Clare sampling abyssal goop with her marine-yellow dredge.

"MICROORGANISMS in the seafloor may soon be producing an unlimited supply of electricity to power equipment such as sensors and sonar beacons. It comes from a fuel cell developed with funding from the US Department of Defense, which taps into a natural voltage gradient at the bottom of the ocean.

"Bugs living in seawater, or on the top layer of
seafloor sediments, use oxygen to break down organic matter, releasing energy as they go. Those that live further down where there is no oxygen, have to rely on other chemicals, such as nitrates and sulphates.

"These different reactions create an electrical
potential difference, just like the voltage between opposite electrodes of a battery. Clare Reimers at Oregon State University in Corvallis and Leonard Tender of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC decided to harness this in a fuel cell, to provide an endless source of electrical energy.

"Their lab prototype uses a negatively charged
electrode buried in about 10 centimetres of sediment with a positively charged partner just above the surface. When the electrodes are connected, they generate 0.03 watts per square metre, enough power to run a small light emitting diode." (((And by my calculations, a common sixty watt- bulb would require a strip of ooze a yard wide and two kilometers long. Good thing there's not a lot of market demand for real estate down there.)))

"And the tireless work of microbes means that the power supply should be never-ending.(...)" (((Yeah. They're tireless all right. They're just not real energetic.)))

"Reimers is experimenting to increase the cell's power. In the spring, divers will install similar fuel cells in real ocean sediments. Later versions could be designed to bury themselves."

(((This "Strange New Energy" thing is starting to look like a groundswell. I'm losing count of 'em now: artificial liver cells, battery-powered ocean goo, freshwater pond slime that burps hydrogen, teensy-weensy methanol fuel cells; it must be something in the air.)))

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