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Micromachined microbial and photosynthetic fuel cells

Publication Type:

Journal Article


JOURNAL OF MICROMECHANICS AND MICROENGINEERING, Volume 16, Number 12, p.2547--2553 (2006)


This paper presents two types of fuel cells: a miniature microbial fuel cell (mu MFC) and a miniature photosynthetic electrochemical cell (mu PEC). A bulk micromachining process is used to fabricate the fuel cells, and the prototype has an active proton exchange membrane area of 1 cm(2). Two different micro-organisms are used as biocatalysts in the anode: (1) Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker's yeast) is used to catalyze glucose and (2) Phylum Cyanophyta (blue-green algae) is used to produce electrons by a photosynthetic reaction under light. In the dark, the mu PEC continues to generate power using the glucose produced under light. In the cathode, potassium ferricyanide is used to accept electrons and electric power is produced by the overall redox reactions. The bio-electrical responses of mu MFCs and mu PECs are characterized with the open-circuit potential measured at an average value of 300-500 mV. Under a 10 ohm load, the power density is measured as 2.3 nW cm(-2) and 0.04 nW cm(-2) for mu MFCs and mu PECs, respectively.