Geophysical approaches to site assessments
The work package leader is Queen's University Belfast, with Dublin City University also participating
Microbially-mediated electron transfer across redox boundaries can result in ‘geobatteries’ that can be measured using geophysical and bioelectrical methods at landfill and contaminated sites. The size and scale of these geoelectric responses requires the presence of naturally occurring electronic conductors such as bio-precipitates, or a combination of extracellular microbial mechanisms and interactions with mineral surfaces. Bypassing the existing subsurface electronic conductor with a series of large graphite electrodes modifies the geobattery into a large microbial fuel cell, or ‘Bio-Electrical System’ (BES).
An engineered BES can be used as a sensor to investigate, monitor, or enhance microbial activity in the subsurface in near real time. A BES deployed at the aerobic/anaerobic redox boundary of an organic contaminate plume can avail of the oxygen gradient and electron donor to produce a small amount of electricity as a microbial fuel cell. This can also be used as a power source for conventional chemical sensors, and innovative microfluidic sensors in remediation assessment will be tested. Belfast City Council (a REMEDIATE partner) will provide a remediated former landfill site for deployment of the developed technology under real conditions. This site access will also be used for on-site training during Summer School workshops.
Early Stage researchers working in this work package are: