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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/H019480/1
Title: The Supergen Biological Fuel Cells Consortium 2010-2014 (CORE)
Principal Investigator: Armstrong, Professor FA
Other Investigators:
Quince, Prof. C Scott, Professor K Greenman, Emeritus Professor J
Curtis, Professor TP Melhuish, Professor C Dinsdale, Professor R
Guwy, Professor A Avignone Rossa, Professor CA Premier, Emeritus Professor GC
Rodriguez-Rodriguez, Dr J Slade, Professor RCT Head, Professor I
Guo, Professor ZX Pickett, Professor CJ Sloan, Professor WT
Thumser, Dr A Yu, Professor EH Varcoe, Professor JR
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) Chameleon Biosurfaces Ltd Mast Carbon Ltd
Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology
Department: Mathematical & Physical Sciences Div
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 18 April 2010 Ends: 15 October 2014 Value (£): 3,374,042
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fuel Cell Technologies
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Oct 2009 SUPERGEN 4 Renewals Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Supergen Biological Fuel Cells Consortium is developing advanced technologies that exploit the special properties of biological systems for energy production. A fuel cell produces electricity by reacting a fuel (such as hydrogen or methanol) with oxygen (from air) at a pair of electrodes instead of by combustion,which produces only heat. Normally, fuel cells require expensive components such as special catalysts (platinum) and membranes. In contrast, biological fuel cells use whole organisms or isolated enzymes as catalysts, and a membrane may not be necessary. Two kinds of fuel cell are under development - microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and enzyme-based fuel cells. MFCs have an important role to play in improving our environment and conserving energy whereas enzyme-based fuel cells (EFCs) provide unique opportunities for new kinds of fuel cells, including ones that can be made very small for niche applications such as implantable power sources. MFCs use bacteria, held in contact with an electrode, to convert organic matter (the fuel) into electrical power. They can also be used to remove (oxidising) contaminants from water supplies with the advantage that the electrical power that is simultaneously produced offsets the energy costs for remediation. EFCs exploit the high activities, efficiencies and selectivities of enzymes, recognising that in most cases, and particularly when attached to an electrode, their performance is far superior to man-made catalysts. The Consortium combines expertise in several areas and plans to advance the field on several fronts. These include the following: developing a clear understanding of how microbes colonise electrodes, how useful bacteria can be sustained and undesirable microbes deterred from colonising; understanding and improving the way that electrical charge is transferred between bacteria and electrodes; optimising the design of electrodes from cheap and abundant materials, focusing on such factors as surface chemistry porosity and conductivity; designing novel fuel cells for small-scale special applications; last but not least, finding new ways to replace platinum as the electrocatalyst for oxygen reduction.
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk