Monday, March 3, 2014

Could Sugar Power Cell Phones Of The Future?

Researchers are harnessing the power of sugar to fuel electronics

Researchers are charged up about biobatteries, devices able to harness common biological processes to generate electricity. Most biobatteries are unable to generate large amounts of power, but researchers recently developed a prototype version that has the potential to be lighter and more powerful than the batteries typically found in today's portable electronic devices, including smartphones.

In the body, sugar is converted into energy in a process called metabolism, which decomposes sugar into carbon dioxide and water while releasing electrons. Biobatteries produce energy though the same conversion process by capturing the electrons that are generated in the decomposition of sugar with the same tools that the body uses. Because biobatteries use materials that are biologically based, they are renewable and non-toxic, making them an attractive alternative to traditional batteries that need metals and chemicals to operate.

Percival Zhang and Zhiguang Zhu, researchers at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, designed a new biobattery with a greater output per weight than the typical lithium-ion batteries used in most electronics. They described the research online last month in the journal Nature Communications.
The new biobattery fully converts sugar to energy, which means more power output than previous biobatteries, and a greater battery charge than common lithium-ion batteries.

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