The Power of Glove: Soft Microbial Fuel Cell for Low-Power Electronics

Jonathan Winfield, Lily Chambers, Andrew Stinchcombe, Jonathan M Rossiter, Ioannis Ieropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


A novel, soft microbial fuel cell (MFC) has been constructed using the finger-piece of a standard laboratory natural rubber latex glove. The natural rubber serves as structural and proton exchange material whilst untreated carbon veil is used for the anode. A soft, conductive, synthetic latex cathode is developed that coats the outside of the glove. This inexpensive, lightweight reactor can without any external power supply, start up and energise a power management system (PMS), which steps-up the MFC output (0.06–0.17 V) to practical levels for operating electronic devices (>3 V). The MFC is able to operate for up to 4 days on just 2 mL of feedstock (synthetic tryptone yeast extract) without any cathode hydration. The MFC responds immediately to changes in fuel-type when the introduction of urine accelerates the cycling times (35 vs. 50 min for charge/discharge) of the MFC and PMS. Following starvation periods of up to 60 h at 0 mV the MFC is able to cold start the PMS simply with the addition of 2 mL fresh feedstock. These findings demonstrate that cheap MFCs can be developed as sole power sources and in conjunction with advancements in ultra-low power electronics, can practically operate small electrical devices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327–332
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • Microbial fuel cell
  • Natural rubber
  • Power management system
  • Urine
  • Conductive latex
  • Energy harvesting


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