Our group wants to find and improve the most beneficial option for harnessing power from the human body in order to power implantable devices. We’ve decided that we want to focus on using glucose fuel cells and specifically glucose powered enzymatic fuel cells to harness the power. The existing research on these fuel cells shows challenges with the interface between the fuel cells and the human body. Since the fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy by oxidizing glucose into gluconolactone and reduces oxygen into water, and glucose is abundant in the blood, these fuel cells must directly interact with bodily fluids. Due to interfacing challenges, the fuel cells are not as efficient as they could be. Our group plans to redesign an enzymatic fuel cell so that the cells can have a more efficient interaction with the body. Mediated electron transfer (MET) has been shown to enhance this process by using a molecule with a correct potential for the redox reaction to transfer the electrons from the biomass to the enzymes. If the composition of these small molecules is optimized for the body, it can actually increase the rate at which the electrons are transferred to the enzymes, and therefore generate a larger current (more power). This has been shown to have the potential to transfer electrons faster and at greater mass than the alternative, which is Direct Electron Transfer (DET), where the electrons are directly transferred to the enzymes. This idea would improve what is currently out there because it would make fuel cells that are more effective so that the energy they generate can have enough power to charge implantable devices in the body.
- Olivia, Alec, Abdi, and Rena