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Proceedings Paper

Development of biologically modified anodes for energy harvesting using microbial fuel cells
Author(s): James J. Sumner; Rahul Ganguli; Brad Chmelka
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Paper Abstract

Biological fuel cells hold promise as an alternative energy source to batteries for unattended ground sensor applications due to the fact that they can be extremely long lived. This lifetime can be extended over batteries by scavenging fuel from the deployed environment. Microbial fuel cells (MFC) are one class of such sources that produce usable energy from small organic compounds (i.e. sugars, alcohols, organic acids, and biopolymers) which can be easily containerized or scavenged from the environment. The use of microorganisms as the anodic catalysts is what makes these systems unique from other biofuel cell designs. One of the main drawbacks of engineering a sensor system powered by an MFC is that power densities and current flux are extremely low in currently reported systems. The power density is limited by the mass transfer of the fuel source to the catalyst, the metabolism of the microbial catalysts and the electron transfer from the organism to the anode. This presentation will focus on the development of a new style of microbially-modified anodes which will increase power density to a level where a practical power source can be engineered. This is being achieved by developing a three dimensional matrix as an artificial, conductive biofilm. These artificial biofilms will allow the capture of a consortium of microbes designed for efficient metabolism of the available fuel source. Also it will keep the microbes close to the electrode allowing ready access by fuel and providing a low resistance passage of the liberated electrons from fuel oxidation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 May 2012
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 8377, Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications III, 83770A (24 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.918290
Show Author Affiliations
James J. Sumner, U.S. Army Research Lab. (United States)
Rahul Ganguli, Teledyne Scientific and Imaging (United States)
Brad Chmelka, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8377:
Energy Harvesting and Storage: Materials, Devices, and Applications III
Nibir K. Dhar; Priyalal S. Wijewarnasuriya; Achyut K. Dutta, Editor(s)

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