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Breakthroughs in biological compounds

Partners involved in the IBFC project have made significant progress in the past in the field of the biological compounds that constitute the basis of Biofuel Cells. The current IBFC project aims to go beyond those recent breakthroughs, and turn those results into demonstrators of a new generation of Implantable BioFuel Cells (IBFCs). The Consortium proposes to achieve this goal by exploiting the potential of nanotechnologies: design of novel architectures capable to host our bio‐electrodes based on nanoporous Silicon or on flexible materials derived from printing technologies, optimization of our “enzymatic BFCs” (GBFC) and of our “biomimetic membranes‐based BFC” and combination of these two potentially complementary approaches.

The optimisation of the enzymatic BFCs and of the biomimetic membranes-based BFC will be essential in the development of the new generation of Implantable BioFuel Cells.


Optimisation of the enzymatic BFC (also referred to as GBFC)

Our recent demonstration [1] of the possibility to produce power inside an animal with a Glucose BioFuel Cell (GBFC) arouse interest not only of the scientific community, but also of “technology watchers” and potential investors looking for technological breakthroughs potentially capable to create new applications (Fig. 1). This was achieved with a new family of GBFCs, whose most efficient instance produced in a rat a stable 2 μW electrical power with 0.133 mL electrodes. Since these first results, we obtained very significantly improved performances [2] by replacing graphite by carbon nanotubes, which suppressed the need of mediators, Indeed we obtained 1.3 mW/cm2, which is the best performance obtained with a GBFC. Moreover, this GBFC implanted in the rat deliver a power of 0.5 mW/mL with electrodes of 0.12mL. The optimisation of this GBFC will allow the consortium to demonstrate that a GBFC of the volume of an existing sealed battery of defibrillator (10mL) can produce over months about 5 to 10 mW, which is about 1000 times more than what these sealed batteries produce for several years.



Optimisation of mediatorless biofuel cells

In parallel, we wish to exploit a novel generation of BioFuel Cells (BFCs), based on biomimetic membranes, capable to transform Na+ gradients into protons gradients, which can easily be turned into power[3]. We obtained preliminary results that demonstrate feasibility of this approach [Figure 2]. This paves the way for the first BFC capable to use cooking salt as fuel, and recently many industry leaders expressed a strong interest in this family of BFCs.



[1] A glucose biofuel cell implanted in rats, Cinquin P, Gondran C, Giroud F, Mazabrard S, Pellissier A, Boucher F, Alcaraz JP, Gorgy K, Lenouvel F, Mathé S, Porcu P, Cosnier S. PLoS One. 2010 May 4;5(5):e10476.)

[2] Mediatorless high‐power glucose biofuel cells based on compressed carbon nanotubeenzyme electrodes. Abdelkader Zebda, Chantal Gondran, Alan Le Goff, Michael Holzinger, Philippe Cinquin and Serge Cosnier. Nature communication (submitted).

[3] Cinquin P, Martin DK (2007). “Biomimetic artificial membrane device”, PCT/EP2008/058253, WO/2009/003936.