Design and Performance Characteristics of a Microfluidic Enzymatic Fuel Cell
thesisposted on 18.10.2016 by Roberto Preite
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
The aim of this work is to design, build and test a microfluidic enzymatic fuel cell in order to convert the chemical energy of biofuels into electrical energy by catalyzing reactions with enzymes. Enzymatic fuel cells (EFCs) are an interesting and new research field which is very promising for micro-powering electronics. However, nowadays this technology has many challenging issues that must be solved before the possibilities of real commercial applications can be unlocked: limits related to bio catalysis and employed materials need to be overcome if EFCs are wanted to expand from the narrow range of micro power generation possibilities as they are in nowadays. For the sake of thoroughly understanding and characterizing the performances, limits and challenges of an enzymatic fuel cell, the main approach was to divide the work into two stages. First, purely electro chemical testing was performed to study the performances of the electrodes. Second, these electrodes were assembled in a microfluidic EFC and the device performance was characterized. The first stage aimed at observing the effects of enzyme immobilization, of the employed fuel/oxidant and the influence of its pH on the electrodes, as well as considering different materials or various coatings and explain the changes in the related properties; the second step was necessary for demonstrating the easiness and feasibility of a microfluidic system fabricated with novel advanced manufacturing techniques as a 3D-printing for realizing EFC devices for possible practical applications. Moreover, this latter was necessary to further study the enzyme stability, durability and the effect of fuel transport on the obtained electric power for realizing EFC devices for possible practical applications.