Successful fuel-cell power generation from seabed hydrothermal vents

September 3, 2013

Potential for self-sustaining, long-term power supplies from the deep sea

The RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) conducted on-site electrochemical surveys in and around an artificially constructed seabed hydrothermal vent in the Okinawa Trough. The survey results were the basis for installing a thermal water–seawater fuel cell next to the artificial vent and successfully demonstrating that power can be generated on deep seabeds.

Since both thermal seawater and regular temperature seawater are in inexhaustible supply, this method can provide a stable, long-term power supply. Similar research has investigated the possibilities for energy generation using temperature differences or steam, but our research has demonstrated that the presented method can generate power with a simple device that could also be made long-lasting and corrosion-resistant. This research will continue over an extended period to confirm viability and is expected to become an important option for on-site power source, the use of which will become increasingly necessary for research and development in deep-sea hydrothermal fields.

Original article
Angewandte Chemie International Edition doi: 10.1002/anie.201302704
M. Yamamoto、R. Nakamura、K. Oguri、S. Kawagucci、K. Suzuki、K. Hashimoto、K. Takai,
“ Electricity generation and illumination via an environmental fuel cell in deep-sea hydrothermal vents”.
Ryuhei Nakamura
Team Leader
Biofunctional Catalyst Research Team