Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) have been a potential green energy source for a long time but one of the problems is that either the technology must be used on a large scale or special equipment have been necessary to keep the fuel cells running such as syringe pumps. Paper-based microbial fuel cells do not need to have a syringe pump to run and can run entirely by themselves when placed in contact with the fluids that are necessary for it to run. Paper-based microbial fuel cells are also more compact than traditional MFCs since the device doesn’t need any external equipment to run.
The goal of this paper is to develop a microbial fuel cell that does not require a syringe pump to function. This is done by layering chromatography paper with wax design printed onto it. This restricts the fluids to a specific flow path allowing it to act like the tubes in a typical microbial fuel cell device by delivering the fluids to the chamber. The fluids are picked up by tabs that sit in the fluid and use capillary attraction to flow up the tab and into the device. The fluids are directed to the chambers where the chemical and biological processes take place. These flows are then directed out of the device so that they are taken to a waste container and out of the system.
Our microliter scale paper-based microbial fuel cell creates a significant current that is sustained for a period of time and can be repeated. A paper-based microbial fuel cell also has a fast response time. These results mean that it could be possible for a set of paper-based microbial fuel cells to create a power density capable of powering small, low power circuits when used in series or parallel.
In this paper, we discuss the fabrication and experimental results of our paper-based microbial fuel cell. Also there will be a discussion of how paper-based microbial fuels cells compare to the traditional microbial fuel cells and how they could be used in the future.