Latest Research From University Of Freiburg | Species Of Tree Fungus Produce Electricity From Waste Water| Production Of Electricity Using Microbial Fuel Cells

Scientists discover current flow in fungus

10:29 AM, 8th July 2013
Tree fungus produce electricity
Fungus Trametes versicolor.

FREIBURG IM BREISGAU, GERMANY: Scientists at University of Freiburg, has found a way to make a species of tree fungus useful for the production of electricity. The tree fungus Trametes versicolor provides the cathode of a biofuel cell with a steady supply of the enzyme laccase, thus enabling the fuel cell to react with oxygen.

Biofuel cells produce electricity that is environmentally friendly and conserves resources, for instance from organic waste material. They can use enzymes as catalysts to enable electrochemical reactions that generate electricity. Enzymes are cheap and made from renewable raw materials as compared to metal catalysts. For many technical applications, however, their lifetime is too short.

The new concept developed by the Freiburg scientists solves this problem by ensuring that the fuel cell is continually resupplied with the biocatalyst. The fungus releases the fungal enzyme laccase into a solution surrounding the cathode where it enables the electrochemical conversion of oxygen.

Experiments conducted by the researchers demonstrate that this method can be used to extend the lifetime of the cathodes to as much as 120 days, and even considerably longer lifetimes seem possible. By comparison, the cathodes only have a lifetime of 14 days if they are not supplied with more of the enzymes. Since the enzymatic solution can be supplied directly to the fuel cell without time-consuming and expensive purification, the costs are reduced to a minimum. Potential applications for the concept include microbial fuel cells that generate electricity from wastewater.

© University of Freiburg News

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