Frequently asked questions


BeFC H&S Policies

What is BeFC's H&S policy?

Our H&S policy is plain and simple: “the protection of the well-being of our employees is our top priority.”

BeFC has consistently demonstrated (through three H&S inspections) that production conditions and protection measures for workers go far beyond the required standards, in terms of exposition to micro- and nanomaterials.

In addition to these, Dr. Michael HOLZINGER, co-founder of BeFC and a renowned specialist in carbon materials, has raised awareness amongst the staff on the matter and trained the relevant employees accordingly.

Business model

Does BeFC hold IP ?

As a university spinoff of CNRS/Université Grenoble Alpes, BeFC holds a strong and ever-evolving patent portfolio and trade secrets protecting various aspects of the technology.

How will BeFC expand ?

BeFC has expanded from France to the US via an office in the research triangle park (RTP) of North Carolina, and the company is soon expanding to Asia.

Where does the idea of the BeFC battery alternative come from ?

Our original goal was to implant the technology inside the body so that dissolved glucose and oxygen from the bloodstream could be harvested to power pacemakers and insulin pumps. However, we later pivoted to exploit our disruptive technology, with digital pregnancy and ovulation tests being our first proof-of-concept (PoC).

Competitive advantages

What are the limitations or drawbacks of using BeFC technology ?

BeFC technology requires an activation step in order to initiate enzymatic reactions. This can either be achieved via the addition of a biological or environmental fluid, or by using our liquid reservoir (blister) technology. Otherwise, the main drawback is that BeFC technology cannot compete with lithium-based batteries in terms of power or energy density.

Why would you use a BeFC technology rather than a battery?

The environmental impact of a battery when disposed of via landfill or incineration for primary batteries is far greater than that with BeFC technology. For many use cases, BeFC can provide a sustainable and ecological energy solution.

What can you use a BeFC technology for?

BeFC paper biofuel cells are ideal for single-use and short operational life time electronics. Great examples include: logistics tracking, wearables, and single-use medical tests.

How are BeFC biofuel cells different from traditional miniature batteries?

Unlike batteries that store energy through the use of reactive metals, our biofuel cells generate electricity in the presence of glucose and oxygen, abundant and sustainable biofuels. Due to thermodynamics, the voltage of our fuel cells is lower (0.75 V) than that typically achieved with battery chemistries (over 1 V). However, this can be overcome by connecting several cells in series, or by the use of DC-DC boost circuits.

What are the characteristics/value propositions of BeFC paper biofuel cell ?

A key differentiator of BeFC technology is that our energy solution is organic. Predominantly comprised of cellulose and carbon, our paper biofuel cells are compostable, drastically simplifying the end-of-life processing of electronic devices.

Why would using a BeFC technology reduce your environmental impact ?

Our technology is bio-inspired, but is is also bio-sourced. Unlike batteries that often use complex chemistries, or polluting manufacturing processes, BeFC provide a low-environmental-impact and sustainable energy solution.

Where can I find a paper battery? What alternatives to batteries currently exist?

Whilst strictly not a battery (rather a biofuel cell), some may consider BeFC technology to be similar to a biobattery as we extract energy stored from biochemicals, glucose and oxygen. A biofuel cell is a subclass of energy generation termed “energy harvesting”. Other examples include photovoltaic (light), RF harvesting (electromagnetic), pyroelectric (thermal) and triboelectric (kinetic).

Contact & involvement

How can I apply for a job at BeFC?

You can find all open positions via our website. However, we’re always interested in hearing from motivated and talented individuals. Feel free to send us via our contact form.

How can I get involved with BeFC ?

Feel free to contact us via our contact form.

Where is BeFC based?

BeFC is based in Grenoble, in the heart of the Alps. However, we also have an office in North Carolina in the US, and are soon expanding to Asia.

Environmental impact

Are the materials used in BeFC technology recyclable?

BeFC materials are organic, and we optimise them for a low environmental impact, improving their sustainability.

We prioritise the use of natural or bio-sourced materials where possible (e.g. natural graphite, cellulose), and the use of recycled materials (such as carbon nano fibres) or repurposed by-products (carbon black, for example) materials, where this is not possible.

Our focus is to provide a more sustainable alternative to conventional miniature battery technologies which traditionally rely on the mining of finite and sometimes rare earth metals. Such batteries use toxic materials that can be dangerous to dispose of, and are typically not economical to collect, process, and recycle.

We acknowledge the utility of traditional battery chemistries in the electrification of transport and grid-side storage, but believe we can provide a better solution for disposable and temporary applications.

Is BeFC technology health and environment-friendly?

The extensive review of academic, governmental, and scientific literature concludes that there is no substantial and/or conclusive evidence that micro or nano-based carbon materials present a significant risk to health or the environment when handled appropriately.

The scientific consensus is that once immobilised into a liquid (e.g., ink) or solid (e.g., electrode in our case), the materials can be considered practically inert, thus perfectly harmless.

However, throughout its manufacturing process, BeFC follows European industrial best practices in handling and processing.

Are BeFC digital tags sustainable ? Compostable ? Biodegrable ? Recyclable ?

Whilst our digital tags are designed to require fewer electronic components and offer a smaller footprint in terms of printed circuit boards (PCB), they are neither compostable, nor biodegradable. However, they can be easily reused, by simply attaching a new BeFC cell with conductive tape.


How many tons of carbon materials at nano and micro scales does BeFC use?

BeFC uses milligrams per electrode, therefore kilograms equate to around millions of cells, which is significantly lower in comparison to other industries.

We use a mixture of different carbon materials based on their unique features. We minimize the use of carbon whenever possible.

What role do carbon materials at nano and micro scales play in BeFC technology?

BeFC makes electricity with papers & enzymes – we offer a cleaner, more sustainable alternative to traditional lithium and alkaline batteries. We are revolutionising the energy ecosystem by producing safer energy solutions from sustainable sources that could be industrially composted or disposed of without impacting the recycling chain. Our solution is the world's first eco-friendly cell.

Carbon materials at nano and micro scales increase conductivity of the electrode and the enzyme catalysis.

What steps has BeFC taken to validate the feasibility of its technology?

BeFC has been working with a handful of forward-thinking global market leaders to test the performance of our products in a range of use cases.

Can you power a plane/car/phone with a paper biofuel cell from BeFC?

We can dream. For now, BeFC technology is only suitable for microelectronic applications. Currently we only extract a small fraction of the energy stored in glucose. Our long-term goal is to extract further energy from this biomolecule.

How much power does a BeFC biofuel cell produce ? What can you do with this power ?

BeFC can produce up to a few milliwatts per square centimeter of peak power. However, the optimal power density for longevity is a few hundred microwatts per square centimeter. This is ideal for maintaining a microcontroller in sleep with a real time clock (RTC) and periodically waking to perform a sense routine, writing the data to memory, and then wirelessly communicating any events.

How long does BeFC technology last ?

It really depends on the use. A good analogy is a car with a tank full of fuel. The fuel may last different amounts of time depending on the number of journeys, the distance driven, the driving style, and whether the engine has warmed up. In the case of BeFC, depending on the number of sensor measurements, the type of wireless communication, and the number of messages sent, the lifetime could be anywhere between minutes and months.

Can a BeFC be recharged?

Technically yes, you could add more biofuels: sugars and oxygen. However, the design complexity to permit refuelling would make it more expensive.

How do you build/produce BeFC ?

Our paper biofuel cells are made from carbon electrodes that are separated by a cellulose microfluidic layer. The electrodes are functionalised with enzymes to either oxidise glucose, or reduce oxygen. Proper attachment of the enzymes to the surface, as well as the surrounding microenvironment,  is critical in order to provide optimal performance.

What is BeFC’s sensor platform, and how does it facilitate data collection ?

Our sensor platform has been developed to provide more with less. Through careful optimisation with our suppliers, we have been able to use fewer components, whilst offering a rich feature set. At the same time, we have developed bespoke firmware to extract the maximum energy from our biofuel cell, whilst simultaneously reducing power consumption.

How is electricity generated from enzymes and paper ?

Enzymes are natural biological catalysts, and at BeFC we use them to convert biofuels into electricity. Our focus is on glucose and oxygen, stemming from our historical academic work on implantable fuel cells, whereby we harvested the energy from dissolved glucose and oxygen in the bloodstream to power devices such as pacemakers.

What is the biofuel cell voltage ?

The nominal cell voltage of BeFC paper biofuel cell is 0.75 V.

What is a biofuel cell ?

A biofuel cell is an energy generator that catalyses (converts) biofuels into electricity. The two major types are microbial, and enzymatic.