Enzymatic Biological Fuel Cell

Enzymatic biological fuel cells (biofuel cells) use biocatalysts, either bio-molecules such as enzymes or even whole living organisms (microbes) to catalyze oxidation of biomass-based materials for generating electrical energy. Biofuel cells are highly renewable, and capable of using naturally available biomass as fuel, as a result, they are an excellent alternative to conventional fuel cells (and batteries) that are plagued by non-renewability, non-implantability, size/weight, operating conditions (high temperature, acidity, toxicity), waste issues, and logistics. This makes them ideal for use in portable applications, military settings, as well as for rural deployment.

CFDRC Biofuel Cell Technology: CFDRC is developing a biofuel cell system to generate electrical energy from biomass (sugars, carbohydrates etc.). The technology development is being partially funded by the US Army to address warfighter applications. The device is based on CFDRC's proprietary flexible (power-strip) architecture, and exploits the unique properties of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to achieve direct electron transfer with the redox active centers of enzyme and microbial catalysts immobilized on the electrodes. Other advantages include a modular system architecture that facilitates optimal use of fuel, and oxygen, leading to a compact and lightweight design, that can be integrated with the sensor systems.

Enzymatic Biological Fuel Cell Enzymatic Biological Fuel Cell

Applications:We have developed a miniaturized biofuel cell prototype that is capable of providing electricity for low-power applications. Because of miniaturization, we anticipate seamless integration of this power-generating prototype with other sensors and low power miniaturized electronics systems. This system is expected to have military as well as civilian applications.

Military Applications: Biofuel cells will enable the path for the US Army's goal to eliminate all army military batteries or at least reduce the frequency of replacing batteries. The most important of these will be power for integrated soldier sensor-suites as envisioned in the warfighter concept. In addition, integration of biofuel technology as a power source for miniature devices currently dependent on batteries as a power source: can be explored. Examples include cameras for remote surveillance, transmitters, and actuators. In addition, the technology can be deployed to power wireless sensor networks.

Civilian Applications: Civilian applications are primarily in consumer electronics, and power electronics. The most relevant application involves the use of a biofuel cell to trickle-charge Lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronics such as cell phones, laptops and PDAs. In addition, implantable biomedical devices including pacemakers, various sensors for monitoring metabolic function and health (including onboard telemetry systems for transferring data to remote locations), catheters, defibrillators, active delivery devices (insulin pumps etc.), drug delivery systems, middle ear hearing devices, and more. Sensors include monitoring devices for important metabolites such as glucose, oxygen, CO2, etc. These devices represent a significant portion of the healthcare market in coming years. Other civilian applications include power sources for environmental sensors, pollution monitors, wildlife tracking sensors, crop quality control sensors etc.