Power Electronics

Biofuel Cell Prototype Promises High Performance

Akermin, the St.Louis-based developer of stabilized enzyme solution, is making a biofuel cell prototype available for testing. According to the company, the Stabilized Enzyme Biofuel Cell (SEBC) provides higher energy density at a lower cost than incumbent power sources including batteries and traditional direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC).

By incorporating SEBC technology to immobilize and stabilize an enzyme in a conductive polymer matrix at the cathode, renewable organic fuels are converted into electricity by a process which is said to be inherently more efficient than conventional methods of portable power generation. The stability afforded by Akermin’s enzyme immobilization polymers, measured in years compared to days for other biofuel cell technology, enables the first truly commercially viable biofuel cell power supply, according to Akermin.

Operating on methanol, this prototype serves to demonstrate the viability of biofuel cell technology. The prototype, which is approximately the size of two D cell batteries, delivers an output of 3 V and up to 1-W pulse. However, the company notes that it is advancing its technology to create fuel cells with 3-W to 5-W output.

Akermin is ready to work with customers interested designing a biofuel cell for their application. Interested parties should contact Nick Akers at 314-812-8035.

Akermin’s prototype incorporates an enzyme-catalyzed biocathode to replace the traditional platinum cathode found in most DMFCs. This high performance air-breathing biocathode enables several key operating and design benefits that lead to higher efficiency, longer runtime, and reduced system cost.

The benefits of this biofuel cell include the ability to passively use nearly pure fuel at the stack without the need for complex water recirculation, significantly reduce susceptibility to fuel crossover, ability to use alternative PEMs, and improved system operating efficiency. Thus, doubling the energy density of a conventional DMFC is achievable, says the company.

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