Objective. Although waste is traditionally assessed as a pollutant which needs to be reduced or lessened, its management is certainly necessary. Nowadays, biological fuel cells, through the direct conversion of organic matter to electricity using biocatalysts, represent a technology able to produce sustainable energy by means of waste treatment. This study aims to propose a mean to generate energy from blood and saliva, that are common risk-infectious medical waste.
Materials and methods. Material employed (purchased by Sigma-Aldrich) were: Glucose oxidase (GOx), Nafion perfluorinated resin solution at 5% in a mixture of lower aliphatic alcohols and water, Polyethylene oxide. Stock solutions of D (+) glucose were prepared in a 0.1 M phosphate buffer solution and stored at 4 °C for at least 24 h before use. Carbon cloth electrode ELAT HT 140 E-W with a platinum loading of 5 gm-2 was purchased by E-Tek. Electrospun Nafion fibers were obtained as follows. Scanning electron microscopy was used to characterize the electrode morphologies.
Results. In order to develop an effective immobilization strategy of GOx on the electrode surface, Nafion fibers (a fully fluorinated ion conducting polymer used as a membrane material in enzymatic fuel cells - EFC) were selected as immobilizing polymer matrix. In this work, exploiting the nafion fibers capability of being able to cathalize Gox activity, we have tried to produce an enzymatic fuel cell which could produce energy from the blood and the saliva within medical-dental waste.
Conclusions. Medical waste refers to all those materials produced by the interaction among doctor and patient, such as blood and saliva. During our research we will try to complete an EFC prototype able to produce energy from blood and saliva inside the risk-infectious medical waste in order to contribute to the energy requirements of a consulting room.