Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Advance In Fuel Cell Technology May Help Power Medical Implants

Date:
March 28, 2003
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Two new microfluidic fuel cells developed at Brown University may help make long-running medical implants a reality. The new fuel cells offer features sought after by manufacturers to provide long-term power for medical devices such as implants that monitor glucose levels in diabetics.

Two new microfluidic fuel cells developed at Brown University may help make long-running medical implants a reality.

Related Articles


The new fuel cells offer features sought after by manufacturers to provide long-term power for medical devices such as implants that monitor glucose levels in diabetics.

"They present a new paradigm toward the development and manufacture of small fuel cells for medical implants," said lead scientist Tayhas Palmore, associate professor of engineering, biology and medicine. "There is a lot of basic science yet to be worked out. But if successful, this design could help rid a diabetic of the need to monitor blood glucose after each meal, and that would make for a significant advance in the treatment of diabetes."

Fuel cells currently are a hot topic because they are more efficient at converting chemical energy into work than a heat engine, they are simple in design, and they don't pollute the environment. For those reasons, fuel cells are seen as promising alternatives to the combustion engine in automobiles and batteries in portable electronics and medical implants.

A fuel cell consists of two electrodes immersed in fuel-containing fluids separated by an ion-conducting membrane. Power is produced by the fuel cell when electrons are removed from the fuel, transported via an external circuit, and combined with positive ions crossing the ion-conducting membrane and oxygen. Conventional fuel cells run on either hydrogen gas or liquid methanol but more recently, prototype fuel cells have been shown to run on more exotic fuels such as glucose or formate. In theory, fuels cell are amenable to a range of fuels.

The Brown fuel cells do not require an ion-conducting membrane or selective catalysts at the electrodes to separate the fuel-containing fluids – two thorny technological traits of fuel cell design that must be considered in the development of miniature fuel cells. Instead, the new fuel cells exploit the fact that fluids do not mix under certain conditions. "We take advantage of how fuels flow in small channels," said Palmore, "in that they don't mix, which means we can keep fuels separated without a membrane."

The Brown-developed fuel cells work in tandem to provide power under the pulsating conditions that mimic the flow of blood in the body. Until now, fuel cell makers had been stymied in their efforts to produce a membrane-less device that did not short-circuit under pulsed flow.

One of the microfluidic fuel cells fabricated at Brown features a novel branched-channel, which encloses six electrodes. This fuel cell is "most suitable for generating electrical power under conditions of pulsed-flow," said Palmore. "The design of the device makes possible the delivery of power to a chip as a result of changes in the concentration of a fuel, such as glucose," she said. "This power feedback is a necessary component in an imbedded sensor for diabetes."

Palmore discussed the new microfluidic fuel cells March 27, 2003 at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in New Orleans. Coauthors of the work are graduate students Mark Luo, Jiangfeng Fei, and Keng Lim. Brown University, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "New Advance In Fuel Cell Technology May Help Power Medical Implants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 March 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030328073035.htm>.
Brown University. (2003, March 28). New Advance In Fuel Cell Technology May Help Power Medical Implants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030328073035.htm
Brown University. "New Advance In Fuel Cell Technology May Help Power Medical Implants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/03/030328073035.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Cablevision Enters Wi-Fi Phone Fray

Reuters - Business Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) The entry by Cablevision and Google could intensify the already heated price wars for mobile phone service. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Hector the Robot Mimics a Giant Stick Insect

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) A robot based on a stick insect can navigate difficult terrain autonomously and adapt to its surroundings. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Pilot Uses Full-Plane Parachute in Crash

Raw: Pilot Uses Full-Plane Parachute in Crash

AP (Jan. 26, 2015) A pilot en route to Hawaii crashed his single-engine plane into the Pacific Ocean Monday and escaped safely thanks to the use of a full-plane parachute. US Coast Guard video captures the dramatic landing. (Jan. 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Scientists Model Flying, Walking Drone After Vampire Bats

Buzz60 (Jan. 26, 2015) Swiss scientists build a new drone that can both fly and walk, modeling it after the movements of common vampire bats. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins