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Interchangeable Biomass Fuels for Paper-Based Microfluidic Fuel Cells: Finding Their Power Density Limits

Lima, André L. D.; Rocha, Piter M.; Silva, Adilson C.; Alves Fernandes, Jesum; Martins, Cauê A.


André L. D. Lima

Piter M. Rocha

Adilson C. Silva

Cauê A. Martins


Paper batteries are self-pumping emerging tools for powering portable analytical systems. These disposable energy converters must be low-cost and must achieve enough energy to power electronic devices. The drawback is to reach high energy keeping the low cost. Here, for the first time, we report a paper-based microfluidic fuel cell (PµFC) equipped with Pt/C on carbon paper (CP) anode and a metal-free CP cathode fed by biomass-derived fuels to deliver high power. The cells were engineered in mixed media configuration, where methanol, ethanol, ethylene glycol, or glycerol is electro-oxidized in an alkaline medium while Na2S2O8 is reduced in an acidic medium. This strategy allows for optimizing each half-cell reaction independently. The colaminar channel of the cellulose paper was chemically investigated by mapping the composition, which reveals a majority of elements from the catholyte and anolyte on each respective side, and a mixture of both at the interface, assuring the existing colaminar system. Moreover, the colaminar flow was investigated by investigating the flow rate considering recorded videos for the first time. All PµFC shows 150-200 s to build the stable colaminar flow, which matches the time to reach a stable open circuit voltage. The flow rate is similar for different concentrations of methanol and ethanol, but it decreases with the increase in ethylene glycol and glycerol concentrations, suggesting longer residence time for the reactants. The cells perform differently for the different concentrations, and their limiting power densities are composed of a balance among anode poisoning, residence time, and viscosity of the liquids. The sustainable PµFCs can be interchangeably fed by the four biomass-derived fuels to deliver ~2.2-3.9 mW cm-2. This allows choosing the proper fuel due to their availability. The unprecedented PµFC fed by ethylene glycol delivered 6.76 mW cm-2, which is the benchmark output power for a paper battery fed by alcohol.


Lima, A. L. D., Rocha, P. M., Silva, A. C., Alves Fernandes, J., & Martins, C. A. (2023). Interchangeable Biomass Fuels for Paper-Based Microfluidic Fuel Cells: Finding Their Power Density Limits. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 15(9), 11895–11905.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 16, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2023
Publication Date Mar 8, 2023
Deposit Date Mar 6, 2023
Publicly Available Date Feb 28, 2024
Journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Print ISSN 1944-8244
Electronic ISSN 1944-8252
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 15
Issue 9
Pages 11895–11905
Keywords Paper batteries; Metal-free cathode; Methanol; Ethanol; Ethylene glycol; Glycerol
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see