New Breakthrough: Sugar-Powered Battery – It’s Cheaper, Refillable, Biodegradable And Easier To Replace

MessageToEagle.com – A battery that runs on sugar – a development that could replace conventional batteries – has been developed by Virginia Tech researchers.

In America alone, billions of toxic batteries are thrown away every year, posing a threat to both the environment and human health. The problem is well-known in many other countries, too.

The new battery is cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable and in as soon as three years, it could be running some of the cell phones, tablets, video games, and the myriad other electronic gadgets that require power in our energy-hungry world.

 


“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering.

 

“So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”In contrary to other sugar batteries, this one has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled, Zhang said.Zhang and his team constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries. 

“We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade,” Zhang said.

Different from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy storage density. The enzymes and fuels used to build the device are biodegradable.

The battery is also refillable and sugar can be added to it much like filling a printer cartridge with ink.

Journal Reference:
Zhiguang Zhu, Tsz Kin Tam, Fangfang Sun, Chun You, Y.H. Percival Zhang. “A high-energy-density sugar biobattery based on a synthetic enzymatic pathway” – Nature Communications, 2014

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