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Sweet success for bio-battery
Chemistry World ^ | Katia Moskvitch | 28 January 2014

Posted on 03/03/2014 9:55:59 PM PST by neverdem

Rechargeable, energy-dense bio-batteries running on sugar might be powering our electronic gadgets in as little as three years, according to a US team of scientists. The battery, created by the group of Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, can convert all the potential chemical energy stored in a sugar into electricity.

The prototype is similar in size to a typical AA battery and has an energy storage density of 596 amp hours per kilogram – roughly one order of magnitude greater than a smartphone’s lithium-ion battery. This means that the battery could last at least twice as long as conventional lithium-ion batteries on a weight-for-weight basis.

sugar_battery

An enzyme cascade strips electrons from glucose and turns it into electricity that could be used to power a mobile phone © NPG

Sugar is an excellent source of energy. Most living cells generate their energy from glucose by passing it down an enzymatic chain that converts it into different sugars. This enzymatic cascade provides the necessary energy to create an electrochemical gradient. This, in turn, can be used to power an enzyme that synthesises adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the universal biological energy currency. However, extracting this energy from a sugar if you’re not a biological organism is tricky – short of combustion, which is impractical to power handheld electronics.

To fuel their battery the team used maltodextrin – a polymer made up of glucose subunits. They then created an entirely new synthetic enzymatic pathway to extract energy from the sugar. Using 13 different enzymes they were able to strip, on average, 24 electrons from a single glucose molecule, which can then be harnessed to power an electrical device.

Mimicking nature

In contrast to natural catabolic pathways for cellular glucose oxidation, the team’s artificial pathway does not rely on ATP as an energy carrier. Instead, the researchers used two redox enzymes to oxidise glucose, generating reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) as the sugar is broken down. Another 10 enzymes further breakdown the sugars and feed them back to the redox enzymes to produce more NADH, with water and carbon dioxide the only by-product. NADH is a reducing agent and author Zhiguang Zhu describes it as ‘an electron shuttle that carries electrons in living cells from one molecule to another’.

In the battery, NADH first transfers the electrons stripped from the glucose to a mediator with the help of an enzyme. The mediator then delivers these electrons to the battery’s electrode, ready to power an electronic device. In this way, the battery mimics the way a living cell transfers electrons from one molecule to another to generate power.

According to the team, the battery already has a number of advantages compared with lithium-ion batteries: the bio-battery runs on renewable sugars, has a high-energy storage density, and it can be easily and quickly recharged by simply topping it up with more sugar solution. Also, while lithium is a limited resource, sugar is abundant and totally safe to use.

The cost could also be an appealing factor. The enzymes are much cheaper than the metals used in conventional batteries. And the bio-battery is also fully biodegradable, says Zhang. But for the battery to get onto the market, the researchers must now tackle two other challenges: increasing power density and lifetime, he adds.

Plamen Atanassov, a bioelectrochemist at the University of New Mexico, US, who was not involved in the study, says the research provides a viable alternative to combustion to directly generate electricity from biofuels. ‘It is the link between biotechnology and biofuels with fuel cells and electrochemical energy technology,’ he says.

References

Z Zhu et al, Nat. Commun., 2014, DOI:10.1038/ncomms4026


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: biobattery; biotechnology

1 posted on 03/03/2014 9:55:59 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

It’s probably biodegradable as well.


2 posted on 03/03/2014 9:59:07 PM PST by Kevmo ("A person's a person, no matter how small" ~Horton Hears a Who)
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To: neverdem
So, how does that compare to a ~2300 mAh NiMH AA battery?

# of recharge cycles?

3 posted on 03/03/2014 9:59:41 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: neverdem

Drink Ethanol, don’t burn it.


4 posted on 03/03/2014 10:00:39 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: neverdem

Huh.

I wonder how far away we are from bio implanted computers that can run off of the implanted person’s metabolism?


5 posted on 03/03/2014 10:11:11 PM PST by Grimmy (equivocation is but the first step along the road to capitulation)
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To: neverdem; Kevmo; Paladin2

“The prototype is similar in size to a typical AA battery and has an energy storage density of 596 amp hours per kilogram – roughly one order of magnitude greater than a smartphone’s lithium-ion battery. This means that the battery could last at least twice as long as conventional lithium-ion batteries on a weight-for-weight basis.”

UH? Supposedly the sugar battery has an energy storage density of 10 times that of lithium ion, but it could only last twice as long??

I must say after reading that my confidence level for the rest of the article was in bad need of recharging.


6 posted on 03/03/2014 10:15:00 PM PST by aquila48
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To: aquila48

Is it rechargeable or not?


7 posted on 03/03/2014 10:20:09 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: aquila48
I must say after reading that my confidence level for the rest of the article was in bad need of recharging.

I'm gonna keep my ion you.

8 posted on 03/03/2014 10:29:40 PM PST by onona (The entitlement army doesnÂ’t vote for candidates, they vote for gravy.)
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To: Paladin2

You fill it with maltodextrin.


9 posted on 03/03/2014 10:30:58 PM PST by this_ol_patriot
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To: neverdem

“Rechargeable, energy-dense bio-batteries running on sugar might be powering our electronic gadgets in as little as three years”

And then again, maybe not.

Magic battery tales are almost my favorites, but magic battery companies beat ‘em out for pure entertainment value every time.


10 posted on 03/03/2014 10:31:37 PM PST by catnipman (Cat Nipman: Vote Republican in 2012 and only be called racist one more time!)
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To: neverdem

Hmmmm.

A liquid-filled battery that farts and you have to feed, making sure that everything is very clean, so it doesn’t get infected.


11 posted on 03/03/2014 10:33:15 PM PST by VanShuyten ("a shadow...draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence.")
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To: this_ol_patriot

PBR won’t work?


12 posted on 03/03/2014 10:34:37 PM PST by Paladin2
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To: neverdem

Welcome to the Matrix.


13 posted on 03/03/2014 10:39:29 PM PST by Norm Lenhart
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To: neverdem
This is really more of an engine than a battery in that it burns fuel (sugar) instead of being recharged (by reversing the electro/chemical process like a lead acid battery).

It does have some very interesting possibilities if it can be scaled up to the point that you could run a car on these.

14 posted on 03/03/2014 10:59:10 PM PST by Boiler Plate ("Why be difficult, when with just a little more work, you can be impossible" Mom)
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To: neverdem
Hey, copper top...


15 posted on 03/03/2014 11:17:40 PM PST by who_would_fardels_bear
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To: Paladin2
Energy is measured in Joules or Watt hours. The article said it is 10 times more than Li-ion, which is 11.6 kWh, so this should be about 110 kWh.

The real question is what is the energy density of the fuel(sugar)? And can it run on Karo.


16 posted on 03/03/2014 11:35:30 PM PST by Boiler Plate ("Why be difficult, when with just a little more work, you can be impossible" Mom)
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To: Boiler Plate

Hopefully I don’t have to share my Mountain Dew with my laptop in the future.


17 posted on 03/04/2014 12:18:19 AM PST by catbertz
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To: neverdem

Brilliant. However, I suppose any size larger than AA will be banned in New York City as being too dangerous due to its high sugar content.


18 posted on 03/04/2014 12:31:04 AM PST by outofsalt (If history teaches us anything it's that history rarely teaches us anything.)
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To: catbertz
That would be like Avgas for this thing wouldn't it?
19 posted on 03/04/2014 12:50:31 AM PST by Boiler Plate ("Why be difficult, when with just a little more work, you can be impossible" Mom)
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To: aquila48

Density is volume (three dimensional space) to energy capacity.

Lithium is light weight. So this battery must be about 5 times heavier than a lithium battery of the same physical volume. At least that what it takes to make the article make sense...

It has to be refilled with fuel - sugar. It releases electricity, water and CO2. Getting rid of water with a phone seems like a problem... Not for a car though...


20 posted on 03/04/2014 12:54:46 AM PST by DB
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To: DB

Good point. Though....

...lithium is about half the density of water.

Assuming that the sugar is in a water solution (don’t know for sure), that means that the same size sugar battery would contain 5 times the energy of lithium ion.


21 posted on 03/04/2014 1:10:32 AM PST by aquila48
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To: neverdem
with water and carbon dioxide the only by-product

CO2?? Aaaah! They're going to kill the planet!! /s

22 posted on 03/04/2014 2:04:20 AM PST by Right Wing Assault
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To: Grimmy

It might operate like a lead-acid battery. One electrode is connected to the implantee’s butt...where the lead is located; and the other to his gut, where the acid is produced. It’s elementary, Watson.


23 posted on 03/04/2014 3:47:11 AM PST by Tucker39 (Welcome to America! Now speak English; and keep to the right....In driving, in Faith, and in politic)
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To: All

I just hope it doesn’t attract ants....


24 posted on 03/04/2014 4:30:43 AM PST by CharlotteVRWC
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To: Grimmy

I wonder how far away we are from bio implanted computers that can run off of the implanted person’s metabolism?


I used to work for a large cell phone company. They were talking of that several years ago. Don’t know what came of it.


25 posted on 03/04/2014 4:35:39 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: neverdem

To recharge your phone you just slide these pre-formed sugar sticks in the hole in the side of your phone and, presto, full charge. ;)


26 posted on 03/04/2014 4:36:38 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: cuban leaf

If only they could design one to work off body fat I’d never have to buy another battery.


27 posted on 03/04/2014 4:50:42 AM PST by oldasrocks (They should lock all of you up and only let out us properly medicated people.)
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To: aquila48
"HUH? Supposedly the sugar battery has an energy storage density of 10 times that of lithium ion, but it could only last twice as long?? I must say after reading that my confidence level for the rest of the article was in bad need of recharging."

Especially after the author called 'amp-hours' the 'energy storage density'. Without knowing the voltage, amp-hours is doesn't tell you anything about energy. In fact, it doesn't tell you much about anything.

28 posted on 03/04/2014 5:38:30 AM PST by norwaypinesavage (Galileo: In science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of one individual)
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To: catnipman

Reading about magic batteries is almost as fun as reading about perpetual motion machines.


29 posted on 03/04/2014 5:48:04 AM PST by jim_trent
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To: neverdem
The battery ... can convert all the potential chemical energy stored in a sugar into electricity.

There is no known process that is 100% efficient.

30 posted on 03/04/2014 6:00:18 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: DB
Getting rid of water with a phone seems like a problem.

Not if it's water vapor. Although temperature conditions might seem to be an issue. Condensation, freezing and all that.

31 posted on 03/04/2014 6:02:56 AM PST by Sherman Logan
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To: neverdem

Environmentalists will want it banned.


32 posted on 03/04/2014 6:17:21 AM PST by Organic Panic
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To: aquila48
UH? Supposedly the sugar battery has an energy storage density of 10 times that of lithium ion, but it could only last twice as long??

One order of magnitude...in the binary system = 2. Et voilà!

33 posted on 03/04/2014 8:42:38 AM PST by Moltke (Sapere aude!)
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To: Boiler Plate

Biological process based fuel cell-runs as long as you feed it. Combine with self mobility and behavior to forage for sustenance, could become autonomous. Add intelligence and ability to duplicate or self repair and achieve “Replicators”. Piss them off...


34 posted on 03/04/2014 2:43:47 PM PST by Ozark Tom
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To: norwaypinesavage

Good point - I missed that.

It’s sad that a supposedly Science site is so science illiterate. Seems that science like everything else has gotten so PC, that they’ll sacrifice accuracy for the green agenda.


35 posted on 03/05/2014 12:02:22 AM PST by aquila48
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To: Ozark Tom

Once again sci/fi starts to become reality.


36 posted on 03/05/2014 1:40:12 AM PST by Boiler Plate ("Why be difficult, when with just a little more work, you can be impossible" Mom)
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To: neverdem

A new twist on “putting sugar in the gas tank.”


37 posted on 03/05/2014 1:43:08 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: norwaypinesavage

Certainly sounds like an engineering groaner. They might be plucking random factoids from different experiments in the same general family.

I’d think the kicker is, yes, voltage. It’s probably millivolts from the sugar, versus many volts from inorganic chemistry. Therefore more cells are needed, and the provision for that will eat up some of your capacity.


38 posted on 03/05/2014 1:47:10 AM PST by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: neverdem

Bump for later.


39 posted on 03/14/2014 7:27:09 PM PDT by 4Liberty (Optimal institutions - optimal economy.)
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