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New Biobattery Running On Sugar Powers Small Electronic Devices


virginiatechEnergy storage device, which runs on sugar, could very soon power our cell phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets. The biobattery is not only environmentally friendly as it uses one of the best natural compounds for energy storage, but it also has the highest energy density ever achieved by a sugar battery.

The invention was developed by a team of scientists from the Verginia Tech Collage of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the findings appeared in the Journal Nature Communications yesterday.

Disposal of toxic batteries has been a huge problem ever since their development. In total, and only looking at the statistics for the U.S, the numbers that correspond to batteries ending up in landfills reach billions. This is where the natural, economical and above all environmentally friendly sugar biobattery can really make a difference, and contribute to reducing the risk of environmental and human health.

The battery contains a biocatalyst enzymes, which function in the same way as the platinum in conventional energy storage devices, but they are much cheaper. On the inside, the battery has an enzymatic fuel cell, which generates electricity through a process of stripping all charge potentials from the sugar in a newly constructed by the researchers non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway.  Electricity is essentially generated by combining air and fuel inside the battery, or fuel cell. The fuel itself is a polysaccharide produced through the process of partial hydrolysis of starch. The electron charges that are stored inside the sugar battery are released gradually using an enzyme cascade.

Now, besides having the characteristics of being the energy storage device, which not only runs on natural compounds, but also has the highest energy density measured to date with such technology, the biobattery is also refillable, as sugar can be added in the same manner as ink is added to a printer at any time. It is very safe, as the filling is not explosive and does not set on fire. All in all, the technology is a real breakthrough, which can entirely change the concept of energy storage. We only need to wait a few years until it gets commercialized.

Image (c) Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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