As if it wasn’t enough for MIT’s virus batteries, scientists from the University of British Columbia have now devised a fuel cell prototype able to feed itself from the sugar in the blood stream.The tricky part of the invention is that the fuel cell is made of nothing else but a type of bacteria, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that lives in yeast.
Electricity is being produced by stealing electrons when the breakdown of food occurs (when the bacteria feeds itself) by using another substance – an electrical mediator – a chemical small enough to pass into cells, grab some electrons, and diffuse out again.
These devices could be useful is replacing pacemakers’ batteries, or as intraspinal microelectrodes for treating paralysis, where placing a Li-Ion battery is tricky and possibly dangerous.
These bio-batteries don’t produce much – they only output several nanowatts, but that would be enough for small medical applications.
The biggest problem with yeast-powered batteries is that the leftovers from the bacteria have to be discharged somewhere, and that place is not the blood stream.
I don’t really know how much current it would produce, but wouldn’t the idea of a blood-stream-powered micro-turbine be more efficient? They’d stick it to an artery and let it produce electricity… green electricity. And maybe it could even power your MP3.