In Germany, a research team from Ruhr-Universität Bochum has shown that operation in an oxygen-free environment significantly prolongs the life of the bioelectrode.
“In order to generate energy sustainably and efficiently, we must not only understand but also overcome the processes that limit the lifetime of renewable energy conversion technologies,” says Wolfgang Schuhmann. The use of protein complexes involved in the photosynthesis of plants is of particular interest. First, these proteins efficiently convert solar to electrical energy, and secondly, they are widely available in nature.
The researchers have already shown in previous work that the operation of the bioelectrode produces reactive molecules that damage the photosystem I and are responsible for the limited lifetime of the bioelectrode. These reactive species are formed by oxygen, which acts as an electron acceptor. “That’s why we proposed the design of bioelectrodes that operate in an oxygen-free environment,” explains Felipe Conzuelo.
Tests have now shown that the lifetime of the bioelectrodes significantly increased under the exclusion of oxygen compared to the operation under the influence of oxygen. “This is an important step in the efficient development and subsequent application of photobioelectrics for energy conversion,” said Fangyuan Zhao.