Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 97, Issue 1, pp 135–142 | Cite as

Controlling autonomous underwater floating platforms using bacterial fermentation

  • Justin C. Biffinger
  • Lisa A. Fitzgerald
  • Erinn C. Howard
  • Emily R. Petersen
  • Preston A. Fulmer
  • Peter K. Wu
  • Bradley R. Ringeisen
Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering

Abstract

Biogenic gas has a wide range of energy applications from being used as a source for crude bio-oil components to direct ignition for heating. The current study describes the use of biogenic gases from Clostridium acetobutylicum for a new application—renewable ballast regeneration for autonomous underwater devices. Uninterrupted (continuous) and blocked flow (pressurization) experiments were performed to determine the overall biogas composition and total volume generated from a semirigid gelatinous matrix. For stopped flow experiments, C. acetobutylicum generated a maximum pressure of 55 psi over 48 h composed of 60 % hydrogen gas when inoculated in a 5 % agar (w/v) support with 5 % glucose (w/v) in the matrix. Typical pressures over 24 h at 318 K ranged from 10 to 33 psi. These blocked flow experiments show for the first time the use of microbial gas production as a way to repressurize gas cylinders. Continuous flow experiments successfully demonstrated how to deliver biogas to an open ballast control configuration for deployable underwater platforms. This study is a starting point for engineering and microbiology investigations of biogas which will advance the integration of biology within autonomous systems.

Keywords

Clostridium acetobutylicum Hydrogen Pressure Ballast Fermentation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag (outside the USA) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justin C. Biffinger
    • 1
  • Lisa A. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  • Erinn C. Howard
    • 1
    • 4
  • Emily R. Petersen
    • 2
  • Preston A. Fulmer
    • 1
  • Peter K. Wu
    • 3
  • Bradley R. Ringeisen
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemistry DivisionUS Naval Research LaboratoryWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Nova Research, Inc.AlexandriaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsSouthern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA
  4. 4.The Scientific Consulting Group, Inc.GaithersburgUSA

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