Enzyme electrodes show great potential for many applications, as biosensors and more recently as anodes and cathodes in biocatalytic fuel cells for power generation. Enzymes have advantages over metal catalysts, as they provide high specificity and reaction rates, while operating under mild conditions. Here we report on studies related to development of mass-producible, completely enzymatic printed glucose/oxygen biofuel cells. The cells are based on filter paper coated with conducting carbon inks containing mediators and laccase, for reduction of oxygen, or aldose dehydrogenase, for oxidation of glucose. Mediator performance in these printed formats is compared to relative rate constants for the enzyme–mediator reaction in solution, for a range of anode and cathode mediators. The power output and stability of fuels cells using an acidophilic laccase isolated from Trametes hirsuta is greater, at pH 5, than that for cells based on Melanocarpus albomyces laccase, that shows optimal activity closer to neutral pH, at pH 6. Highest power output, although of limited stability, was observed for ThL/ABTS cathodes, providing a maximum power density of 3.5 μW cm−2 at 0.34 V, when coupled to an ALDH glucose anode mediated by an osmium complex. The stability of cell voltage above a threshold of 200 mV under a moderate 75 kΩ load is used to benchmark printed fuel cell performance. Highest stability was obtained for a printed fuel cell using osmium complexes as mediators of glucose oxidation by aldose dehydrogenase, and oxygen reduction by T. hirsuta laccase, maintaining cell voltage above 200 mV for 137 h at pH 5. These results provide promising directions for further development of mass-producible, completely enzymatic, printed biofuel cells.
- Biofuel cell
- aldose dehydrogenase