Disposable fuel cell patch brings galvanic skin treatments into the home

Researchers in Finland have developed a disposable patch that will let consumers perform galvanic skin treatments at home.

Developed at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the new patch is manufactured using printing and lamination techniques and derives its power from a biofuel cell.

The patch changes the permeability of skin with the aid of microcurrent, said Anu Vaari, 
a senior scientist
at VTT.

‘A selected cosmetic product could be applied to the specific area of your skin after the patch has been removed,’ she said via email.  ‘In existing products the cosmetic agent should be used at the same time with the patch and the current is used to push the cosmetic agent into your skin by the aid of electric field.’

Vaari added that the patch is activated with a few drops of ‘suitable liquid’ prior to application, and that the microcurrent is produced by enzymes using sugar and oxygen as fuel.

‘The power production mechanism is the same as in conventional fuel cells,’ said Vaari.

According to a related VTT patent application, the multi-layered structure comprises a conductive laminar layer; and an enzyme layer containing a dry enzyme capable of oxidizing or dehydrogenating carbohydrate materials.

Because the enzymatic anode layer and the fuel-containing layer are not interacting during the production – and since they are kept latent during storage – the power source will remain stable for extended periods of time, which increases the power source’s utility.

A patent for the product’s manufacturing has also been applied for.

In addition to cosmetics, the same product and manufacturing method could be adapted to medicinal and herbal products. The product is said to have attracted interest from the cosmetics industry and is now moving toward commercialisation.