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Keywords:

  • algae;
  • biofuels;
  • electrochemistry;
  • enzymes;
  • fuel cells

Abstract

A microbial fuel cell (MFC) was designed in which fuel is generated in the cell by the enzyme glucoamylase, which is displayed on the surface of yeast. The enzyme digests starch specifically into monomeric glucose units and as a consequence enables further glucose oxidation by microorganisms present in the MFC anode. The oxidative enzyme glucose oxidase was coupled to the glucoamylase digestive enzyme. When both enzymes were displayed on the surface of yeast cells in a mixed culture, superior fuel-cell performance was observed in comparison with other combinations of yeast cells, unmodified yeast, or pure enzymes. The feasibility of the use of the green macroalgae Ulva lactuca in such a genetically modified MFC was also demonstrated. Herein, we report the performance of such fuel cells as a proof of concept for the enzymatic digestion of complex organic fuels in the anode of MFCs to render the fuel more available to microorganisms.