Microbial Electrochemical Systems

This program elucidates the microorganisms and mechanisms that enable the direct conversion of chemical energy to electricity as part of a microbial electrochemical system (MES). Various applications are of interest, including benthic microbial fuel cells (MFC) for powering underwater sensors, and energy-efficient MES for shipboard wastewater treatment. To further advance capabilities of microbial power options, it is necessary to understand the microbial physiology, genetics and community interactions that modulate electron transfer through electrode biofilms. Note that this program is not interested in biomedical (in vivo or wearables) power applications, municipal wastewater or solid waste treatment.

Research Concentration Areas

  • Microbial Fuel Cells
  • Microbial Electrochemical Systems (for Shipboard Waste-to-Energy)

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Improved understanding of e-transport by electrogenic organisms/consortia to electrodes, to increase current/power densities
  • Methods to overcome depletion of organic “fuel” in sediment
  • Robust electrode materials, fabrication and configurations for deployment at a variety of water depths or vessel types
  • Strategies to minimize power and current losses during scale up to large MES (e.g., large area anodes)
  • Testing under a variety of environmental or wastewater feedstock conditions, geographic locations and water depths, and with relevant sensors and devices

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Laura Kienker

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 342

Email for Questions: laura.kienker@navy.mil

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please see our Funding Opportunities page and refer to broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-21-S-B001.

  • Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.
  • Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through grants.gov; instructions are included in the BAA.

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