tablets, video games and electronic gadgets to run on sugar in next
three years? It's quite possible, with new research paving the way.
research team at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,
popularly known as Virginia Tech, has developed a battery that runs on
sugar and has an unmatched energy density.
This ground-breaking development could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable and biodegradable.
is a perfect energy storage compound in nature. So, it's only logical
that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly
way to produce a battery," said YH Percival Zhang, an associate
professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.
other sugar batteries have been developed, this one has an energy
density an order of magnitude higher than others - allowing it to run
longer before needing to be refueled, said the study published in the
journal Nature Communications.
"In as soon as three years, the new
battery could be running some of the cell phones, tablets and the
myriad other electronic gadgets that require power in our energy-hungry
world," Zhang said.
Zhang and his colleagues constructed a
non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials
from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell.
low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly
platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.
all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel - in this case
maltodextrin - a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch -
with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.
"We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade," Zhang said.
from hydrogen fuel cells and direct methanol fuel cells, the fuel sugar
solution is neither explosive nor flammable and has a higher energy
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, said the study.