BIOFUEL CELLS. CURRENT STATE AND PERSPECTIVES OF DEVELOPMENT IN UKRAINE
The rapid reduction of fossil fuels induces society to develop new alternative energy technologies that would use renewable energy and helped to reduce human impact on the environment. The use of biofuel cells is declared as a promising trend for solving these problems. Of particular interest is their variety – microbial fuel cells, in which electricity is generated due to the decomposition of organic compounds by exoelectrogens. In addition to electricity generating, it is also possible to produce hydrogen in a different variety of biofuel cell, namely in bioelectrochemical systems. All these systems are united by their ability to convert the energy of chemical bonds of organic molecules directly into electricity or biohydrogen with using microorganisms. Their important advantage is the possibility of using wastewaters as a raw material for their own functioning since wastewaters with a high concentration of organic compounds are a renewable resource for electricity or hydrogen production.
In the last decade in such developed countries as the USA, Australia, Germany, and China the biotechnological method of electricity and hydrogen production has developed.
An analysis of the literature about microbial fuel cells, done in the work of the research team of authors under the direction of C. Santoro, shows that over the past decade, the number of publications has grown rapidly in order (from 100 publications from 2006 to 1020 in 2016, quotes from 2000 to 32,000, respectively). Although this review has about 500 references, non-English publications of Ukrainian scholars are not provided.
Regarding research on this subject in Ukraine, there are two main groups of scientists, from the National Technical University of Ukraine "Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute" (Department of environmental biotechnology and bioenergy) and Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Department of Microbiology). The first group is headed by prof. Kuzminskiy Ye. V. The research of this group is aimed at the development of biotechnology of electricity and hydrogen production with the simultaneous utilization of wastewater with high concentration of organic compounds. The second group is headed by prof. Gnatush S. O. This group studies the metabolism of bacteria Desulfuromonas acetoxidans, which are typical representatives of exoelectrogens.
Unfortunately, there are no other studies in this area in Ukraine. This low interest can be explained by insufficient financing of scientific research in this area.
The prospects of large-scale development of biofuel cells lie in the area of sewage treatment, as they can be used to solve two problems: to receive electricity with the simultaneous high concentrated wastewater treatment. This problem can be solved quickly only with the close cooperation of interdisciplinary specialists in such fields of science and technology, as microbiology, electrochemistry, biotechnology and water treatment technologies, as well as provided that sufficient funding is provided.
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