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Fade to Green: A Biodegradable Stack of Microbial Fuel Cells

Winfield, Jonathan; Chambers, Lily D.; Rossiter, Jonathan; Stinchcombe, Andrew; Walter, X. Alexis; Greenman, John; Ieropoulos, Ioannis

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Lily D. Chambers

Jonathan Rossiter

Andrew Stinchcombe

Yannis Ieropoulos
Professor in Bioenergy & Director of B-B


© 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.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 11, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 16, 2015
Publication Date Aug 24, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 28, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jul 16, 2016
Journal ChemSusChem
Print ISSN 1864-5631
Electronic ISSN 1864-564X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 16
Pages 2705-2712
Keywords microbial fuel cells, green energy, energy conversion, fuel cells, green chemistry, materials sciences, renewable resources
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Winfield, J., Chambers, L., Rossiter, J., Stinchcombe, A., Walter, X. A., Greenman, J. and Ieropoulos, I. (2015) Fade to green: A biodegradable stack of microbial fuel cells. ChemSusChem, 8 (16), pp.2705-2712. ISSN 1864-5631, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


Fade to Green for repository.docx (1000 Kb)

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