October 6, 2008

Sugar powers bio battery

Stick sugar-busting enzymes on a fuel-cell electrode in a way that keeps the enzymes working and you have a simple battery-like biofuel power source.

A prototype biofuel cell produces electricity through the chemical reaction of enzymes breaking down glucose, a sustainable fuel. The electrostatic interaction between oppositely charged polymers holds the enzymes to a porous carbon-fiber electrode without inhibiting the enzymes.

The biofuel cell weighs about 40 grams, which is about the weight of a pair of alkaline AA batteries. It produces more than 100 milliwatts of power, which is an 8th the power of a pair of AA batteries. The biofuel cell is small in part because it's passive, meaning it doesn't have to mix or flow the glucose or air. The 100 milliwatt output is the highest reported for a passive biofuel cell, according to the researchers.

Four of the prototype cells powered a radio-controlled car in a demonstration.

Research paper:
A High-power Glucose/Oxygen Biofuel Cell Operating under Quiescent Conditions
Energy & Environmental Science, published online September 29, 2008

Materials Laboratories, Sony Corporation

Related stories and briefs:
Alcohol fuel cell goes micro -- related research
Alcohol powers fuel cell -- related research

Back to ERN October 6/13, 2008



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