Brandon Caban, Gettysburg College


Class Year:



Sairah Malkin, Ph.D.

Project Title:

Development and modification of materials and methods to construct benthic microbial fuel cells and electrochemical snorkels


The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is an organism of significant ecological and economic importance. Oyster farming is demonstrably beneficial not only to the economy, but also – in many scenarios – to the coastal environment. However, as oyster farming efforts increase, there is the potential for some negative impacts to the environment. Aquaculture methods generally consist of areas of caged oysters where oyster biodeposits, a combination of oyster feces and pseudofeces, can accumulate on the seafloor. When oyster biodeposits are not fully dispersed, they can increase the concentration of sulfide in the underlying sediment by stimulating sulfate reduction. Excessive amounts of sulfide can poison benthic organisms, causing decreases in vegetation, secondary production, and biodiversity. Thus, we aim to investigate methods that can be used to counter sulfide excess. Two such methods have been suggested - benthic microbial fuel cells (BMFC) and electrochemical snorkels (ES). This study serves as a pilot study for future research which will measure the ability of BMFC and ES to remove sulfide from sediment, so this study focuses on the design and construction of BMFC/ES regarding their ability to test sulfide concentrations. Some materials tested include, container material, electrode material and placement, wire material and insulation, and wire connectivity to the electrode. For the sake of future sulfide concentration measurements, I determined that the most effective BMFC/ES would be constructed in an acrylic plastic tubing, with electrodes designed from carbon fiber rather than carbon felt, electrodes and the conductive rod could be housed in a specially designed 3D printed platform, and titanium wires insulated with polyolefin shrink tubing and sewn in a circular pattern.


Horn Point Laboratory

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