3 years ago

Enhancing power density of biophotovoltaics by decoupling storage and power delivery

Paolo Bombelli, David J. Lea-Smith, Kadi L. Saar, Thomas Müller, Eva-Mari Aro, Toby Call, Christopher J. Howe, Tuomas P. J. Knowles
Biophotovoltaic devices (BPVs), which use photosynthetic organisms as active materials to harvest light, have a range of attractive features relative to synthetic and non-biological photovoltaics, including their environmentally friendly nature and ability to self-repair. However, efficiencies of BPVs are currently lower than those of synthetic analogues. Here, we demonstrate BPVs delivering anodic power densities of over 0.5 W m−2, a value five times that for previously described BPVs. We achieved this through the use of cyanobacterial mutants with increased electron export characteristics together with a microscale flow-based design that allowed independent optimization of the charging and power delivery processes, as well as membrane-free operation by exploiting laminar flow to separate the catholyte and anolyte streams. These results suggest that miniaturization of active elements and flow control for decoupled operation and independent optimization of the core processes involved in BPV design are effective strategies for enhancing power output and thus the potential of BPVs as viable systems for sustainable energy generation.

Publisher URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-017-0073-0

DOI: 10.1038/s41560-017-0073-0

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