Next time that someone asks you if you have some sugar, they may actually need it for something else other than their coffee addiction. They could be using it to power their walkman. Sony, the Japanese electronics maker announced that they have developed an experimental ‘biobattery’ powered by carbohydrates, or as it is most deliciously known, sugar.
The battery presented by SONY showed the highest output ever by a battery of this kind at a very respectable 50mW of power, or about enough to power a portable MP3 player. The Bio Battery is a type of battery that uses energy sources such as carbohydrates, amino acids and other sources of enzymes and it is based on the work of Professor Kenji Kano from Kyoto University. It is still a bit big, with a length, height and depth of 39mm all around an it does take about a minute to get started. Still, they way that it works is simply nothing short of amazing. Simply add sugar to the battery and voila, instant power. You don’t even have to mix it.
For the more technologically inclined, the process works like this: Take a small container, divide it into two using a cellophane separator. On one side, add an anode (an electrode in which a positive electric current flows through to an electric device) consisting of sugar-digesting enzymes and mediator, and on the other side, a cathode (an electrode in which a positive electric current flown out of an electric device) composed of oxygen-reducing enzymes and mediator. The mediators in this case are Vitamin K3 for the anode and Potassium Ferricyanide for the cathode. When sugar is added to the mix, the anode extracts the electrons and hydrogen ions. The ions travel to the cathode through the separator which then combine with the oxygen to produce water. It is this process which generated the electricity to power the device.
So, is sugar the future for battery powered devices? It sure would be nice to if this could be the case.