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Biodegradable Protein-Based Photoelectrochemical Cells with Biopolymer Composite Electrodes That Enable Recovery of Valuable Metals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Lakshmi Suresh
  • Jayraj Vaghasiya
  • Mike Jones
  • Swee Ching Tan
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8834-8841
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
Early online date9 Apr 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - 6 May 2019


The development of new technologies that use sunlight as an energy source is adding to pressure on finite natural resources and the challenges of recycling and disposal. Looking to nature for material assistance, we describe a proof-of-concept flexible and biodegradable photoelectrochemical cell based almost entirely on pigments, proteins, polysaccharides, and graphene platelets. In addition to being largely environmentally benign, such devices present opportunities for the recovery of valuable components such as, in the present case, the geologically scarce metal indium and the precious metal gold. Recovery is achieved through dissolution in ethanol followed by physical separation of the heavy element, leaving a residue made up from common elements that can be recycled through natural biodegradation. Potential applications for flexible, biomolecule-based photoelectrochemical cells are considered.

    Structured keywords

  • BrisSynBio
  • Bristol BioDesign Institute

    Research areas

  • Biodegradable, Flexible electrodes, Graphene/ethyl-cellulose composite, Indium recycling, Protein photoelectrochemical cell, Synthetic Biology



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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via ACS at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

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    Embargo ends: 9/04/20

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