Minteer, Shelley D. Department of Chemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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- Biofuel cells, published June 2017:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Biofuel cells, published June 2004:Download PDF Get Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Fuels and applications
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A subclass of fuel cells in which the catalyst at the anode and/or the cathode are of biological origin (that is, nucleic acid, enzyme, microbe, or organelle). When considering energy storage, the most common form of energy storage today is the battery, which contains two electrodes (an anode that removes an electron from one species in the battery and a cathode that adds an electron to a second species in the battery). Batteries are usually defined as primary (disposable), secondary (rechargeable), or fuel cells. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that convert the chemical energy of a fuel and an oxidant to electrical energy. They are typically composed of an anode with a catalyst for oxidizing the fuel, a cathode with a catalyst for oxygen reduction, and a separator that prevents the fuel and oxygen from mixing. Most fuel cells are categorized by the separator used to separate the anode and cathode physically. For example, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells are a class of fuel cells in which the separator is an ion-exchange polymer, and solid-oxide fuel cells are a class of fuel cells in which the separator is a ceramic oxide. Biofuel cells are a class of fuel cells that are defined by the catalyst used in the fuel cell. They are defined by the fact that the catalyst at the anode and/or the cathode are of biological origin, as shown in Fig. 1. Most commonly, these biocatalysts are enzymes or microbial organisms, but they can be catalytic nucleic acids, organelles, or tissues. See also: Battery; Biological oxidation; Catalysis and catalysts; Cell organization; Enzyme; Fuel cell; Microbiology; Oxidation-reduction
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