03/14/2013

Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Biobatteries catch breath

An air-breathing bio-battery has been constructed by researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. The core element providing the new power source with relatively high voltage and long lifetime is a carefully designed cathode taking up oxygen from air and composed of an enzyme, carbon nanotubes and silicate.

People are increasingly taking advantage of devices supporting various functions of our bodies. Today they include cardiac pacemakers or hearing aids; tomorrow it will be contact lenses with automatically changing focal length or computer-controlled displays generating images directly in the eye. None of these devices will work if not coupled to an efficient and long-lasting power supply source. The best solution seems to be miniaturised biofuel cells consuming substances naturally occurring in human body or in its direct surrounding.

Researchers from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IPC PAS) in Warsaw developed an efficient electrode for the use in construction of biofuel cells or zinc-oxygen biobatteries. After installation in a cell, the new biocathode generates a voltage, during many hours, that is higher than that obtained in existing power sources of similar design. The most interesting is that the device is air-breathing: it works at full efficiency when it can take oxygen directly from the air.

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