Materials Chemistry and Physics, Vol.163, 245-252, 2015
Energy conversion from aluminium and phosphate rich solution via ZnO activation of aluminium
Electrochemical power sources have motivated intense research efforts in the development of alternative 'green' power sources for ultra-low powered bioelectronic devices. Biofuel cells employ immobilized enzymes to convert the available chemical energy of organic fuels directly into electricity. However, biofuel cells are limited by short lifetime due to enzyme inactivation and frequent need to incorporate mediators to shuttle electrons to the final electron acceptor. In this context, other electrochemical power sources are necessary in energy conversion and storage device applications. Here we report on the fabrication and characterization of a membrane-free aluminium/phosphate cell based on the activation of aluminium (Al) using ZnO nanocrystal in an AI/phosphate cell as a 'green' alternative to the traditional enzymatic biofuel cells. The hybrid cell operates in neutral phosphate buffer solution and physiological saline buffer. The ZnO modifier in the phosphate rich electrolyte activated the pitting of Al resulting in the production of hydrogen, as the reducing agent for the reduction of H2PO4- ions to HPO32- ions at a formal potential of -0.250 V vs. Ag/AgCl. Specifically, the fabricated cell operating in phosphate buffer and physiological saline buffer exhibit an open-circuit voltage of 0.810 V and 0.751 V and delivered a maximum power density of 0.225 mW cm(-2) and 1.77 mW cm(-2), respectively. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of generating electricity by activating Al as anodic material in a hybrid cell supplied with phosphate rich electrolyte. Our approach simplifies the construction and operation of the electrochemical power source as a novel "green" alternative to the current anodic substrates used in enzymatic biofuel cells for low power bioelectronics applications. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.