There is huge importance in the continuous development of battery power and its sources. The high price of batteries (of all sorts) is mostly due to the fabrication time and technique involved in making them. Not only are we striving for better, longer lasting batteries for our devices, we are looking for alternative sources as well. Bio-batteries are the environmentally and eco-friendly option for manufacturing and utilizing batteries, as the energy storing device is powered by organic compounds. There have been many developments in bio batteries already, from corporations, to universities and research foundations. Currently, the most well-known is the glucose bio-battery. These sugar-powered materials have ten times the energy storage of their lithium-ion counterpart.
Another source being strongly considered is bacteria. Bacteria is a powerful substance, strong enough to make impacts on human health. But, as many know, not all bacteria are bad (the “good” bacteria, also known as probiotics, are essential for the digestive system). Getting to battery power, the researchers at New York’s Binghamton University have been working on this so-called ‘bacterial battery’. Aimed at being both environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the manufacturing process, the anticipated battery would also be appropriately priced once it’s ready to use in the real world.
The bacteria-powered battery has been made on chromatography paper, where half is covered with a silver nitrate ribbon, and wax as its cathode underneath. The other half contains a conductive polymer, as to mimic an anode. In comes a few drops of liquid bacteria onto the paper’s reservoir, commencing cellular respiration, and voila, we have energy! As magical as all this may sound, it is! Yet, because we’re talking small-scale battery power here, we should be seeing this more in the range of powering very small electronic devices, running glucose sensors, or even detecting pathogens.
The amount of juice generated is about “31.51 microwatts at 125.53 microamps with six batteries in three parallel series, and 44.85 microwatts at 105.89 microamps in a 6x6 configuration”. An upside to this battery form is its portability, which is very high since it can be folded into various configurations, also making it capable of generating different amounts of power. For now, scientists are working on harnessing this energy in small form-factors, but just because there’s not enough energy to power a smartphone, or even illuminate a light bulb, there professionals have been looking at even better uses for these batteries. Hence, the focus is more on biosensors, an incredible tool that could be most useful in performing life-saving tasks, as well as other low-powered technologies for emergency situations in remote areas. This could become a tremendously vital part in creating a base for useful microorganism power-harvesting, now known as papertronics. Anyone interested should definitely keep up with further developments on bio batteries as its potential unfolds.
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