Saturday, Nov 29, 2014

New ‘sugar’ batteries to power smartphones for 10 days

Press Trust of India | Posted: March 2, 2014 3:28 pm

Scientists have developed a new battery that consumes sugar to generate electricity enough to power a smartphone for 10 days after a single charge.

The bio-battery designed by researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has a greater output per weight than the typical lithium-ion batteries used in most electronics.

The prototype version has the potential to be lighter and more powerful than the batteries typically found in today’s portable electronic devices, including smartphones.

In the body, sugar is converted into energy in a process called metabolism, which decomposes sugar into carbon dioxide and water while releasing electrons.

Bio-batteries produce energy though the same conversion process by capturing the electrons that are generated in the decomposition of sugar with the same tools that the body uses.

As bio-batteries use materials that are biologically based, they are renewable and non-toxic, making them an attractive alternative to traditional batteries that need metals and chemicals to operate.

“By using the lithium-ion battery, for example, your phone can only last for one day, but in the future it will use sugar as the fuel then the phone could last 10 days,” said Zhiguang Zhu, a researcher at Virginia Tech.

The new bio-battery gets its efficiency by using a novel system of enzymes, which are proteins that help the reaction to take place, Inside Science News Service (ISNS) reported.

The system uses two active enzymes that liberate two pairs of electrons from the sugar, while 10 other enzymes help to reset the reaction inside the bio-battery.

Once the reaction is reset, the active enzymes release another quartet of electrons.

After six cycles, the bio-battery extracts all of the energy bound in the sugar molecule, along with carbon dioxide and water.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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