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The power of glove: Soft microbial fuel cell for low-power electronics

Winfield, Jonathan; Chambers, Lily D.; Stinchcombe, Andrew; Rossiter, Jonathan; Ieropoulos, Ioannis

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Lily D. Chambers

Andrew Stinchcombe

Jonathan Rossiter

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


A novel, soft microbial fuel cell (MFC) has been constructed using the finger-piece of a standard laboratory natural rubber latex glove. The natural rubber serves as structural and proton exchange material whilst untreated carbon veil is used for the anode. A soft, conductive, synthetic latex cathode is developed that coats the outside of the glove. This inexpensive, lightweight reactor can without any external power supply, start up and energise a power management system (PMS), which steps-up the MFC output (0.06-0.17 V) to practical levels for operating electronic devices (>3 V). The MFC is able to operate for up to 4 days on just 2 mL of feedstock (synthetic tryptone yeast extract) without any cathode hydration. The MFC responds immediately to changes in fuel-type when the introduction of urine accelerates the cycling times (35 vs. 50 min for charge/discharge) of the MFC and PMS. Following starvation periods of up to 60 h at 0 mV the MFC is able to cold start the PMS simply with the addition of 2 mL fresh feedstock. These findings demonstrate that cheap MFCs can be developed as sole power sources and in conjunction with advancements in ultra-low power electronics, can practically operate small electrical devices.© 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Winfield, J., Chambers, L. D., Stinchcombe, A., Rossiter, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2014). The power of glove: Soft microbial fuel cell for low-power electronics. Journal of Power Sources, 249, 327-332.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 22, 2013
Online Publication Date Oct 30, 2013
Publication Date Mar 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 11, 2016
Journal Journal of Power Sources
Print ISSN 0378-7753
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 249
Pages 327-332
Keywords microbial fuel cell, natural rubber, power management system, urine, conductive latex, energy harvesting
Public URL
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