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Issue 9, 2009
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Harnessing electric power from monosaccharides—a carbohydrate–air alkaline fuel cell mediated by redox dyes

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Abstract

Although carbohydrates play a central role in the biochemical pathways of biological systems, current technologies do not allow us to seriously consider the direct oxidation of monosaccharides such as glucose as a prominent source of power for electronic devices. Here we show a simple, inexpensive approach to harness chemical energy from glucose, converting it directly to electric power without a precious metal, enzyme or microorganism catalyst to promote monosaccharide oxidation. The design of this abiotic anode using inexpensive chemical dyes in alkaline solutions with high-surface-carbon materials is capable of harnessing electrical power from glucose. In conjunction with a commercial air-breathing electrode the resulting cell can generate maximum power at about 0.3 V and more than 9 mA cm−2; thus more than 2.5 mW cm−2. This power density surpasses any existing biotic or abiotic design. This approach might open the door to a broader possibility in using such monosaccharides in energy storage and harvesting to power small devices.

Graphical abstract: Harnessing electric power from monosaccharides—a carbohydrate–air alkaline fuel cell mediated by redox dyes

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Apr 2009, accepted on 12 Jun 2009 and first published on 19 Jun 2009


Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/B906770A
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2009,2, 965-969
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    Harnessing electric power from monosaccharides—a carbohydrate–air alkaline fuel cell mediated by redox dyes

    D. Scott and B. Y. Liaw, Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 965
    DOI: 10.1039/B906770A

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