Biofuel cell

Electricity directly from biological energy sources – e.g. for medical technology

Biofuel cells extract electricity in a manner that is environmentally-friendly and conserves resources, for instance, from residual and waste material of organic origin that is available in the direct vicinity of the biofuel cells. Biofuel cells can sustainably provide energy, regardless of motion or temperature differentials, making them particularly suitable for medical implants, distributed sensor systems, and autonomous robots. 

In the Lab for MEMS Applications of the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) at the University of Freiburg the Bio-Electrical-Chemical Systems Research Group develops regenerative concepts for supplying energy with biological fuel cells. These biological fuel cells use energy sources from their direct environment (keyword: "energy harvesting"). With the aid of platinum electrodes, for example, electrical energy can be obtained by converting the body's own blood sugar (glucose) that is present in tissue fluid. Such systems can be used to supply energy for applications such as medical implants, which require relatively low quantities of energy. This would make it possible to operate a cardiac pacemaker permanently without a battery, for example. 

In microbial fuel cells, living microorganisms (e.g. special electro-active bacteria) enable the conversion of a biofuel. Through this conversion, it is possible to extract electrical energy directly from wastewater and thereby increase the efficiency of water treatment plants or operate energy self-sufficient sensors for wastewater treatment.

Close collaboration with the university enables us to rely on current concepts and use them for our developments in the area of energy management.


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Roland Zengerle
Executive Board
Phone: +49 761 203-73213