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. 2017 May 15;56(21):5725-5728.
doi: 10.1002/anie.201701768. Epub 2017 Apr 5.

Spontaneous and Widespread Electricity Generation in Natural Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Fields

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Spontaneous and Widespread Electricity Generation in Natural Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Fields

Masahiro Yamamoto et al. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. .

Abstract

Deep-sea hydrothermal vents discharge abundant reductive energy into oxidative seawater. Herein, we demonstrated that in situ measurements of redox potentials on the surfaces of active hydrothermal mineral deposits were more negative than the surrounding seawater potential, driving electrical current generation. We also demonstrated that negative potentials in the surface of minerals were widespread in the hydrothermal fields, regardless of the proximity to hydrothermal fluid discharges. Lab experiments verified that the negative potential of the mineral surface was induced by a distant electron transfer from the hydrothermal fluid through the metallic and catalytic properties of minerals. These results indicate that electric current is spontaneously and widely generated in natural mineral deposits in deep-sea hydrothermal fields. Our discovery provides important insights into the microbial communities that are supported by extracellular electron transfer and the prebiotic chemical and metabolic evolution of the ocean hydrothermal systems.

Keywords: deep-sea hydrothermal systems; electrochemistry; redox potentials; sulfide minerals.

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