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Towards disposable microbial fuel cells: Natural rubber glove membranes

Chambers, Lily D.; Winfield, Jonathan; Rossiter, Jonathan; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis


Lily D. Chambers

Jonathan Rossiter

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


© 2014 Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Natural rubber from laboratory gloves (GNR) was compared to cation exchange membrane (CEM) in microbial fuel cells (MFCs). GNR-MFCs immediately generated power indicating the availability of proton transfer pathways in the material, which is contrary to previous research using condom natural rubber membranes. Under bi-directional resistance sweeps, CEM-MFCs produced higher power but were less stable than GNR. Stability proved the valuable trait over 96 h periods under fixed resistances where GNR-MFCs produced 26% higher power than CEM-MFCs and reduced COD by 88% compared to 73% achieved with CEM. Anolyte conductivity increased more significantly for CEM but at the same time pH levels were more marked, a factor that may have contributed to instability. Under composting conditions, GNR samples degraded 100% after 285 days whilst GNR-MFC membranes were still intact and operational after 493 days. This innovative research could lead the way in producing inexpensive, disposable MFCs with controllable degradation.


Chambers, L. D., Winfield, J., Rossiter, J., Greenman, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014). Towards disposable microbial fuel cells: Natural rubber glove membranes. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 39(36), 21803-21810.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Journal International Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Print ISSN 0360-3199
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 36
Pages 21803-21810
Keywords microbial fuel cell, natural rubber, cation exchange membrane, biodegradation, power overshoot
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