© 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. The focus of this study is the development of biodegradable microbial fuel cells (MFCs) able to produce useful power. Reactors with an 8mL chamber volume were designed using all biodegradable products: polylactic acid for the frames, natural rubber as the cation-exchange membrane and egg-based, open-to-air cathodes coated with a lanolin gas diffusion layer. Forty MFCs were operated in various configurations. When fed with urine, the biodegradable stack was able to power appliances and was still operational after six months. One useful application for this truly sustainable MFC technology includes onboard power supplies for biodegradable robotic systems. After operation in remote ecological locations, these could degrade harmlessly into the surroundings to leave no trace when the mission is complete. Green power: A truly green electronic system should have a green power source such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs). Conventionally, MFCs are built using materials that will have an ecological impact at remote places. We report for the first time a stack of biodegradable MFCs constructed using natural materials for the chassis, electrodes and membranes. Sufficient power is produced to energise real applications. Such systems could biodegrade harmlessly into the environment once their mission is complete.
Winfield, J., Chambers, L. D., Rossiter, J., Stinchcombe, A., Walter, X. A., Greenman, J., & Ieropoulos, I. (2015). Fade to Green: A Biodegradable Stack of Microbial Fuel Cells. ChemSusChem, 8(16), 2705-2712. https://doi.org/10.1002/cssc.201500431