New 'biofuel cell' produces electricity from hydrogen in plain air

Oxford University scientists have presented a concept for a biofuel cell at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Fraser Armstrong described a new type of fuel cell that comprises enzymes called hydrogenases that can oxidize hydrogen through metabolism. Electrodes coated with the enzymes produce electricity from ordinary air that is blended with three percent hydrogen. That concentration is low enough to prevent the mixture from being an explosive hazard.
A major advantage of this design is that it uses no platinum which is one of the major cost drivers in fuel cell construction. The initial prototypes are generating enough electricity to power small electronic devices. The new design isn't yet commercially viable, but they have made tremendous progress in developing enzymes that are resistant to the presence of oxygen. The biofuel cell is also not affected by the presence of carbon monoxide which when present in platinum catalyst fuel cells poisons the cell. More information is available in the press release at the Read link.

[Source: American Chemical Society]

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