The Japanese electronics giant Sony has announced the development of a new technology that produces energy from shredded paper.
At a fair about environmental products, opened in Tokyo, Sony invited children to make a little experiment. They introduced a paper into a mixture of enzymes and water. After a few minutes, the liquid has become a source of energy, being able to power a small fan.
“This is the same mechanism with which termites eat wood to get energy,” said Chisato Kitsukawa, a public relations manager at Sony.
The performance was part of Sony’s attempts to create a sugar-based “bio battery” that converts glucose into electricity. Pieces of corrugated board have been used at this fair to provide cellulose, a long chain of glucose sugar found in the walls of green plants.
The enzymes also play an important role in this process. Their mission is to break the chain and the resulting sugar is then processed by another group of enzymes in a process that provides electrons and hydrogen ions.
The hydrogen ions combine with oxygen from the air to create water while the electrons travel through an outer circuit to produce electricity.
Due to its low power output, this new technology is a long way from commercialization. Currently, it is capable of generating enough electricity to power digital music players. The first sugar battery technology has been unveiled by Sony in 2007.