Development of an Integrated Salt Cartridge-Reverse Electrodialysis (Red) Device to Increase Electrolyte Concentrations to Biomedical Devices

Abstract

Emerging technologies in nanotechnology and biomedical engineering have led to an increase in the use of implantable biomedical devices. These devices are currently battery powered which often means they must be surgically replaced during a patient’s lifetime. Therefore, there is an important need for a power source that could provide continuous, stable power over a prolonged time. Reverse electrodialysis (RED) based biopower cells have been previously used to generate continuous power from physiologically relevant fluids; however, the low salinity gradient that exists within the body limited the performance of the biopower cell. In this study, a miniaturized RED biopower cell design coupled with a salt cartridge was evaluated for boosting the salt concentration gradient supplied to RED in situ. For the salt cartridge, polysulfone (PSf) hollow fibers were prepared in-house and saturated with NaCl solutions to deliver salt and thereby enhance the concentration gradient. The effect of operational parameters including solution flow rate and cartridge salt concentration on salt transport performance was evaluated. The results demonstrated that the use of the salt cartridge was able to increase the salt concentration of the RED inlet stream by 74% which in turn generated a 3-fold increase in the open circuit voltage (OCV) of the biopower cell. This innovative adaptation of the membrane-based approach into portable power generation could help open new pathways in various biomedical applications

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