Bioelectrocatalysis is the process by which organisms catalyze the generation of electric potential, typically across membranes. In essence, this creates a battery. Biofuel cells, therefore, could be powered by any number of feedstocks, with tailored electrocatalysts inspired by those from nature. Additionally, similar technology can be applied to carbon sequestration and subsequent energy creation/storage.
Non-enzymatic solutions incorporate heavy metals and complex synthetic chemicals as cathodes, anode, and membrane materials. Enzymes have been attractive as catalysts in food, pharmaceutical, and biological processes because they are renewable, highly reaction-selective, low-cost and environmentally friendly. However, they usually exhibit short life when exposed to harsh chemical environments and high temperatures. Akermin has developed a proprietary method of stabilizing enzymes, particularly for use in electrocatalysis. Additionally, enzymes are particularly suitable for low-power, long term application. Traditional batteries are very sensitive to temperature and environmental conditions that the Akermin system can tolerate.
Dr. Minteer has made a career of analyzing the biochemical mechanisms of electrocatalysis, enzyme stabilization, and molecular transport. Through careful study of these processes, her group has been able to develop enzymes and systems that can use life's non-combustive technology: sugar as energy.
Stabilized enzymes, electrocatalysis, bio-batteries.Edit Summary