New biofuel cell with energy storage

November 15, 2016

Researchers have developed a hybrid of a fuel cell and capacitor on a biocatalytic basis. With the aid of enzymatic processes, what's known as a biosupercapacitor efficiently generates and stores energy. The trick: the enzymes are embedded in a stable polymer gel, which can store a large amount of energy. The scientists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the Swedish Malmö University describe their development in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Societal challenge

Generating energy and saving it with as little loss as possible is one of the major challenges for today's society. Energy production and storage usually take place in different systems - which is inefficient. This is different in the new biosupercapacitor, which combines both processes.

"Such a technology could, for instance, be interesting for miniaturised devices, which should even supply themselves with energy wirelessly. This is particularly important for implantable miniaturised sensors," says Prof Dr Wolfgang Schuhmann from the Bochum Institute for Analytical Chemistry. He was involved in the development with his colleagues Dr Felipe Conzuelo, Dr Piyanut Pinyou and Sabine Alsaoub.

Enzymes at both electrodes

With the aid of an enzyme, the biosupercapacitor burns glucose as a fuel at one electrode. At the other electrode, an enzyme converts oxygen into water. Both enzymes must be embedded in an electron-conducting gel in order to establish the electrical contact to the electrodes. For the first time, the team used the same gel, also called a redox polymer, for both electrodes.

When charging up and storing the energy, this redox polymer at one electrode gives off electrons and is thus positively charged. At the other electrode, it takes in the electrons and is thus negatively charged. "During the discharging process, the charges equal out and a current flows," explains Schuhmann.

High capacity

The system set up in this manner showed itself to be stable in the researchers' tests and can serve as a permanent source of energy. It has a low weight and a high capacity, so it can hold a large charge. "We see this work as a starting point for future strategies in the development of new, highly functional and also affordable electrical sources of energy on bioelectrochemical basis," summarise the authors.
-end-


Ruhr-University Bochum

Related Fuel Cell Articles from Brightsurf:

INRS researchers develop a new membraneless fuel cell
The research team of INRS (Institut national de la recherche scientifique) professor Mohamed Mohamedi has designed a green membraneless fuel cell that uses oxygen from the air.

Researchers advance fuel cell technology
Washington State University researchers have made a key advance in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that could make the highly energy-efficient and low-polluting technology a more viable alternative to gasoline combustion engines for powering cars.

Niobium used as catalyst in fuel cell
Glycerol fuel cell can replace batteries in cell phones and laptops, and could be used in future to run electric cars and supply power to homes.

Inside the fuel cell -- Imaging method promises industrial insight
Hydrogen-containing substances are important for many industries, but scientists have struggled to obtain detailed images to understand the element's behavior.

Selenium anchors could improve durability of platinum fuel cell catalysts
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new platinum-based catalytic system that is far more durable than traditional commercial systems and has a potentially longer lifespan.

Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled
An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

More flexible nanomaterials can make fuel cell cars cheaper
A new method of increasing the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets, just a few atoms thick, can someday make fuel cells for hydrogen cars cheaper, finds a new Johns Hopkins study.

Developed self-controlling 'smart' fuel cell electrode material
A research team led by Professor Kang Taek Lee in the Department of Energy Science and Engineering developed electrode material for a new form of high-performance solid oxide fuel cell.

Finally, a robust fuel cell that runs on methane at practical temperatures
Either exorbitantly expensive fuel or insanely hot temperatures have made fuel cells a boutique proposition, but now there's one that runs on cheap methane and at much lower temperatures.

New fuel cell concept brings biological design to better electricity generation
Fuel cells have long been viewed as a promising power source.

Read More: Fuel Cell News and Fuel Cell Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.