A fermentation-powered thermopneumatic pump for biomedical applications

Manuel Ochoa, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Babak Ziaie, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Lab Chip, 2012,12, 4044-4048 DOI: 10.1039/C2LC40620A


We present a microorganism-powered thermopneumatic pump that utilizes temperature-dependent slow-kinetics gas (carbon dioxide) generating fermentation of yeast as a pressure source. The pump consists of stacked layers of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and a silicon substrate that form a drug reservoir, and a yeast-solution-filled working chamber. The pump operates by the displacement of a drug due to the generation of gas produced via yeast fermentation carried out at skin temperatures. The robustness of yeast allows for long shelf life under extreme environmental conditions (50 degrees C, >250 MPa, 5-8% humidity). The generation of carbon dioxide is a linear function of time for a given temperature, thus allowing for a controlled volume displacement. A polymeric prototype (dimensions 15 mm x 15 mm x 10 mm) with a slow flow rate of


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology