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A Disposable Power Source in Resource-limited Environments: A Paper-based Biobattery Generating Electricity from Wastewater


We report a novel paper-based biobattery which generates power from microorganism-containing liquid derived from renewable and sustainable wastewater which is readily accessible in the local environment. The device fuses the art of origami and the technology of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and has the potential to shift the paradigm for flexible and stackable paper-based batteries by enabling exceptional electrical characteristics and functionalities. 3D, modular, and retractable battery stack is created from (i) 2D paper sheets through high degrees of folding and (ii) multifunctional layers sandwiched for MFC device configuration. The stack is based on ninja star-shaped origami design formed by eight MFC modular blades, which is retractable from sharp shuriken (closed) to round frisbee (opened). The microorganism-containing wastewater is added into an inlet of the closed battery stack and it is transported into each MFC module through patterned fluidic pathways in the paper layers. During operation, the battery stack is transformed into the round frisbee to connect eight MFC modules in series for improving the power output and simultaneously expose all air-cathodes to the air for their cathodic reactions. The device generates desired values of electrical current and potential for powering an LED for more than 20 min.