The meaning of juicing up your iPod may soon become a lot more literal. Researchers at Saint Louis University have developed a fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source - from soft drinks to tree sap - and has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries.
The new battery, which is completely biodegradable, could eventually replace lithium ion batteries in many portable electronic applications, including computers. The findings were described today at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.
This study shows that renewable fuels can be directly employed in batteries at room temperature to lead to more energy-efficient battery technology than metal-based approaches.
It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that's also cleaner for the environment. Study leader Shelley Minteer, Ph.D.
A few other researchers also have developed fuel cell batteries that run on sugar, but Minteer claims that her version is the longest-lasting and most powerful of its type to date. If the battery continues to show promise during further testing and refinement, it could be ready for commercialization in three to five years, she estimates.
Consumers aren't the only ones who stand to benefit from this new technology. The military is interested in using the sugar battery to charge portable electronic equipment on the battlefield and in emergency situations where access to electricity is limited. These devices include remote sensors for detecting biological and chemical weapons. Devices could be instantly recharged by adding virtually any convenient sugar source, including plant sap, Minteer said.
Like other fuel cells, the sugar battery contains enzymes that convert fuel - in this case, sugar - into electricity, leaving behind water as a main byproduct. But unlike other fuel cells, all of the materials used to build the sugar battery are biodegradable.
So far, Minteer has run the batteries on glucose, flat sodas, sweetened drink mixes and tree sap, with promising results. She also tested carbonated beverages, but carbonation appears to weaken the fuel cell.
Saint Louis University Press Release
written by Cara, May 24, 2007
written by XX-Emo_babe-XX, May 24, 2007
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