• 5 minutes Mike Shellman's musings on "Cartoon of the Week"
  • 11 minutes Permian already crested the productivity bell curve - downward now to Tier 2 geological locations
  • 17 minutes WTI @ 67.50, charts show $62.50 next
  • 17 hours The Discount Airline Model Is Coming for Europe’s Railways
  • 5 hours Pakistan: "Heart" Of Terrorism and Global Threat
  • 53 mins Saudi Fund Wants to Take Tesla Private?
  • 10 hours Desperate Call or... Erdogan Says Turkey Will Boycott U.S. Electronics
  • 1 hour Starvation, horror in Venezuela
  • 2 hours Renewable Energy Could "Effectively Be Free" by 2030
  • 10 hours Venezuela set to raise gasoline prices to international levels.
  • 1 day Batteries Could Be a Small Dotcom-Style Bubble
  • 4 hours Are Trump's steel tariffs working? Seems they are!
  • 1 day Newspaper Editorials Across U.S. Rebuke Trump For Attacks On Press
  • 2 days France Will Close All Coal Fired Power Stations By 2021
  • 2 days Don't Expect Too Much: Despite a Soaring Economy, America's Annual Pay Increase Isn't Budging
  • 24 hours Scottish Battery ‘Breakthrough’ Could Charge Electric Cars In Seconds
Alt Text

New Process Makes Ethanol Sustainable

A new breakthrough has shown…

Alt Text

Sweden Burns H&M Clothes As Fuel

A power plant in Stockholm…

Alt Text

Is The U.S. Ethanol Industry Under Siege?

Last week, Iowa Senator Chuck…

Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

More Info

Trending Discussions

A Biofuel Cell that Uses Fungus to Generate Cheap Electricty

A Biofuel Cell that Uses Fungus to Generate Cheap Electricty

In a new concept for biofuel cells Sabine Sané, doctoral candidate in the research training group Micro Energy Harvesting at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) of the University of Freiburg, has found a way to make a species of tree fungus useful for the production of electricity.

The idea is so innovative and unique that the new energy conversion concept was chosen as the cover story of ChemSusChem, a journal for chemistry, sustainability, energy, and materials.  Strange for certain but its fact based truth.

ChemSusChem Cover with Fungus for Biofuel Cells
ChemSusChem Cover with Fungus for Biofuel Cells the Lead Article.

The background is biofuel cells produce electricity that is environmentally friendly and conserves resources, for instance from organic waste material.  A biofuel cell would use enzymes as catalysts to enable electrochemical reactions that generate electricity.  In contrast to precious metal catalysts in conventional hydrogen product fuel cells, these enzymes can be obtained at low cost from renewable raw materials. For many technical applications, however, their lifetime is too short.

Related article: Biofuel Breakthrough? Marine Organism can Provide Food and Fuel

The new concept developed by the Freiburg scientists solves this problem by ensuring that the fuel cell is continually resupplied with the biocatalyst. The supplier of the new biofuel cell is Trametes versicolor, a tree fungus that is also found in temperate climates.

The fungus releases the fungal enzyme laccase into a solution surrounding the cathode the positive pole of the biofuel cell where it enables the electrochemical conversion of oxygen. Experiments conducted by the researchers demonstrate that this method can be used to extend the lifetime of the cathodes to as much as a remarkable 120 days, and considerably longer lifetimes now seem possible.

In a contrasting comparison, the cathodes only have a lifetime of 14 days if they are not supplied with more of the enzymes. Since the enzymatic solution can be supplied directly to the fuel cell without time-consuming and expensive purification, the costs are reduced to a minimum. Potential applications for the concept include microbial fuel cells that generate electricity from wastewater, a technology Kerzenmacher’s research group is also developing.

Enzymatic biofuel cells offer great potential for the direct conversion of biochemically-stored energy from renewable biomass resources into electricity.  But the enzyme purification is time-consuming and expensive.  Additionally, the enzyme’s degrading hinders the long-term use of enzymatic biofuel cells, which limits their lifetime to only a few weeks.

Related article: Oil Industry Works Hard to End the E15 Fuel Blend

The Freiburg scientists’ results demonstrate the possibility to establish simple, cost efficient, and mediatorless enzymatic biofuel cell cathodes that do not require expensive enzyme purification procedures.

An enzyme process biofuel cell with an extended lifetime with self-replicating microorganisms providing the electrode with catalytically active enzymes in a continuous or periodic manner now looks like a feasible commercial idea.

Sané’s research was supported by scientists from a research group led by Dr. Sven Kerzenmacher at Prof. Dr. Roland Zengerle’s Laboratory for MEMS Applications.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Strange and True – Fungus can Power Electricity




Back to homepage

Trending Discussions


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News