We all know that if you give a little kid some sugar, they’ll have enough energy to be a total pain for a couple of hours. Well, why not charge your gadgets that way too? A group of researchers just presented their findings at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) about a fuel-cell battery that runs on sugar! The battery can be juiced up with soda-pop or even vegetable oil and recharges electronics the way we recharge ourselves — with glucose.
“This is the first demonstration of a new class of biofuel cells,” noted the presenter of the report, Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., “when further developed, these devices have the potential for replacing disposable and rechargeable batteries in a wide variety of consumer electronics and other products.” The team has created the first fuel cell using mitochondria — you probably learned about these in elementary school. Mitochondria are fed by glucose which comes from food and is in high concentration in vegetable oil and sugary drinks.
These new fuel cells are quite small and are easily nourished. They could be used to provide energy for everything from wireless sensors for motion detection or as stamp sized power sources for hidden explosives — not that we’re saying you should blow anyone up using green power, but that’s kind of cool. Minteer pointed out that their team is the first to make a fuel cell with the body’s own power source, “it is the first such device based on one of the microscopic parts of the billions upon billions of cells that make up the body.”