Solar-induced direct biomass-to-electricity hybrid fuel cell using polyoxometalates as photocatalyst and charge carrier

We present a solar-induced hybrid fuel cell that is directly powered with natural polymeric biomasses, such as starch, cellulose, lignin, and even switchgrass and wood powders

Wei Liu; Wei Mu; Mengjie Liu; Xiaodan Zhang; Hongli Cai; Yulin Deng


Scholarcy highlights

  • The current polymer-exchange membrane fuel cell technology cannot directly use biomass as fuel
  • Microbial fuel cells can work at low temperature, very low electric power output, rigorous reaction conditions and limited lifetime seriously hinder their applications
  • Highly effective polymer-exchange membrane fuel cell powered by hydrogen or low molecular weight alcohols have been successfully commercialized, polymeric biomass such as starch, lignin and cellulose have not been directly used in PEMFC because the C–C bonds cannot be completely electro-oxidized to CO2 at low temperatures with a noble metal catalyst
  • We present a solar-induced hybrid fuel cell that directly consumes natural polymeric biomass, such as starch, lignin, cellulose, and even switchgrass or wood powders. With this hybrid fuel cell technology, the biomass is oxidized by polyoxometalates in the solution under solar irradiation and the reduced POM is oxidized by oxygen through an external circuit, producing electricity
  • It includes a common fuel cell equipped with a membrane electrode assembly and a transparent glass fuel storage vessel that can be pre-irradiated with light
  • The results suggest that the designed biomass–POM reaction system could combine photochemical and thermal biomass degradation in a single process, which means that the sunlight utilization could be extended to the near-infrared band
  • Inc., Santa Clara, CA, USA, 8453) to calculate the amount of electrons transferred from starch to PMo12 during light irradiation or heating

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