A complete testing environment for the automated parallel performance characterization of biofuel cells: design, validation, and application
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We present a complete testing environment for the parallel performance characterization of biofuel cells. Besides rapid-assembly electrode fixtures and an aseptic electrochemical reactor, it comprises a 24-channel electrical testing system that bridges the gap between simple load resistors and costly multi-channel potentiostats. The computer-controlled testing system features active current control to enable the forced operation of half-cell electrodes, whereas galvanic isolation between individual channels ensures interference-free operation of multiple fuel cells immersed in a common testing solution. Implemented into the control software is an automated procedure for the step-wise recording of polarization curves. This way, performance overestimation due to a too fast increase in load current can be circumvented. As an applicational example, three abiotically catalyzed glucose fuel cells are characterized simultaneously in a common testing solution. Complete disclosure of the electrical system (incl. printed circuit board layout, control software, and circuit diagrams) in the online supplementary material accompanying this paper allows researchers to replicate our setup in their lab and can serve as inspiration for the design of similar systems adapted to specific requirements.
KeywordsBiofuel cell Fuel cell Energy harvesting Performance Potentiostat Galvanostat
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the European Union (Contract No. 001837 Healthy Aims). Also, we would like to thank Karl-Heinz Boven, Hans Löffler, and Michael Hesse of Multichannel Systems Germany for their support during integration of the STG 2008 stimulus generator into our setup and software.
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