We are always looking for new and innovative ways to power the myriad of devices we use each day, even more so if that power can be generated without harming the environment. Even so, few could have predicted that we would one day have paper batteries that are powered by our spit. We can now thank a team of researchers from Binghamton University for developing their paper-based, bacteria-powered batteries.
With just a little spit, the battery is able to power an LED light for about 20 minutes. The technology is not limited to lighting up diodes. There are some very important possible applications, especially for those in underdeveloped nations. The batteries could be used to power important medical tools like pregnancy tests, HIV tests, glucose monitors, and other potentially life-saving medical devices.
The batteries can be easily and cheaply assembled and anyone with functioning salivary glands can power the device. Even if you can't muster the spit, the batteries can also be powered by a little dirty water. The research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials Technology.
The batteries can be easily and cheaply produced using only a few select materials: paper, carbon, and printing wax. “The battery includes specialized bacterial cells, called exoelectrogens, which have the ability to harvest electrons externally to the outside electrode,” professor for computer science at Binghamton University Seokheun Choi told Nexus Media. “For the long-term storage, the bacterial cells are freeze-dried until use. This battery can even be used in challenging environmental conditions like desert areas. All you need is an organic matter to rehydrate and activate the freeze-dried cells.”
This is just the latest example of science helping us to build better batteries. There are also batteries in development that will be able to hold three times the amount of energy as others, bendable batteries that could help devices better conform to our bodies, and also instantly recharging batteries that could be the final nail in the coffin for fossil fuels.
Batteries will be an integral part of our clean energy future. The ability to store and efficiently access energy generated by renewable sources will be key to the widespread adoption of these Earth-saving energy solutions.