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Sustainability 2014, 6(10), 7263-7275; doi:10.3390/su6107263

Wireless Sensor Network Powered by a Terrestrial Microbial Fuel Cell as a Sustainable Land Monitoring Energy System

1
Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications (DIET), Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, Rome 00184, Italy
2
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Eudossiana 18, Rome 00184, Italy
3
Interuniversity Research Center on Sustainable Development (CIRPS), Sapienza University of Rome, Via Cavour 256, Rome 00184, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 July 2014 / Revised: 25 September 2014 / Accepted: 26 September 2014 / Published: 22 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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Abstract

This work aims at investigating the possibility of a wireless sensor network powered by an energy harvesting technology, such as a microbial fuel cell (MFC). An MFC is a bioreactor that transforms energy stored in chemical bonds of organic compounds into electrical energy. This process takes place through catalytic reactions of microorganisms under anaerobic conditions. An anode chamber together with a cathode chamber composes a conventional MFC reactor. The protons generated in the anode chamber are then transferred into the cathode chamber through a proton exchange membrane (PEM). A possible option is to use the soil itself as the membrane. In this case, we are referring to, more properly, a terrestrial microbial fuel cell (TMFC). This research examines the sustainability of a wireless sensor network powered by TMFC for land monitoring and precision agriculture. Acting on several factors, such as pH, temperature, humidity and type of soil used, we obtained minimum performance requirements in terms of the output power of the TMFC. In order to identify some of the different network node configurations and to compare the resulting performance, we investigated the energy consumption of the core components of a node, e.g., the transceiver and microcontroller, looking for the best performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy harvesting; microbial fuel cell; land monitoring; precision agriculture; low-power electronics energy harvesting; microbial fuel cell; land monitoring; precision agriculture; low-power electronics
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Pietrelli, A.; Micangeli, A.; Ferrara, V.; Raffi, A. Wireless Sensor Network Powered by a Terrestrial Microbial Fuel Cell as a Sustainable Land Monitoring Energy System. Sustainability 2014, 6, 7263-7275.

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