MICROBIAL FUEL CELL FOR DEGRADATION OF CRUDE OIL
Salimar Cordero1, Nicole Fahrenfeld2.
1University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, Mayaguez, PR, 2Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ.
The release of crude oil during leaks and spills introduces organic contaminants to the environment. Using microbial fuel cells (MFCs) as a bioremediation alternative can increase contaminant degradation rates while providing a way to monitor biodegradation in situ. The objective of this study is to use an MFC to compare power generation and biodegradation in 2 different sediment types: an historically oil-contaminated wetland sediment and an oil-spiked river sediment not previously contaminated. Voltage measurements were taken with a multimeter to produce polarization and density curves to help determine useful current parameters for maximum power production. Samples of the sediment were preserved for chemical and microbial community analysis. After 7 days, a maximum power of 1.1 mW/m2 (normalized to cathode area) was produced by the wetland sediment as compared to a maximum of 0.0281 mW/m2 for the river sediment. Preliminary results for these systems indicate the effects of sediment type and microbial community on power production and biodegradation potential.