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Battery low? Give it some sugar

Battery low? Give it some sugar

"Feed me!" - A new fuel-cell battery uses sugar to generate electicity.

A new energy technology that is almost finished with its development phase may make your current battery obsolete. The new hope of the future is a fuel-cell that gets its energy from the same place many gamers do - straight-up sugar. And scientists are hoping it will power a cell phone or laptop near you soon.

The new battery design uses readily available sugar and converts it to electricity. At room temperature, a sugar-cell battery will offer up to four times the lifespan of an equivalently sized Lithium-Ion battery, which is the current industry standard. However, the new battery would be biodegradeable and a fraction of the price. Though this isn't the first time that sugar has been considered for a fuel, it is the first time it's been considered for a viable electricity source.

Of course, the battery does still have some kinks to work out. That four times longer figure is at only 20% efficiency. That means that though the battery could get considerably better, its current design wastes 80% of the energy released. One has to wonder how much of that is in the form of heat. Also, the sugar batteries are far more susceptible to temperature issues, since extreme cold or heat will damage the critical enzymes.

However, even with these current weaknesses, one has to admit that the technology is pretty exciting. Sugar-fueled batteries would be a lot safer both for people and the environment, and with nations like India and China coming into their digital ages, that could be very important. Also, the technology would make batteries, which are one of the most expensive individual parts of an electronic device, much cheaper - a benefit that could show a huge benefit as it makes its way through the industry.

The first use of the fuel cell is actually to function as a recharger for normal Li-Ion batteries in mobile phones and laptops, but the scientists are hopeful that it won't take much to make the move to being the battery rather than charging it. The technology has already been commercially licensed, and is expected to start appearing in the consumer marketplace within three to five years from now.

Do you have a thought on the new concept? Tell us about it in our forums.

11 Comments

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David_Fitzy 28th March 2007, 09:03 Quote
SWEET!

sorry couldn't help it
Dr. Strangelove 28th March 2007, 11:26 Quote
Hehe think about what would happen if you put one of those batteries in a Desktop replacement (portable?) your battery would end up as a piece of hard candy;)
konsta 28th March 2007, 11:53 Quote
Is it rechargeable?
riggs 28th March 2007, 12:15 Quote
I'm sure there was a story a few years back (possibly here @ Bit) about a device that could extract small levels of glucose from blood, and use it to create an electric current.
I assume this is similar tech? Would be pretty cool, and much cheaper than conventional batteries.
Tim S 28th March 2007, 12:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Fitzy
SWEET!

sorry couldn't help it
yes, it's quite tasty :p
Dr. Strangelove 28th March 2007, 12:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by konsta
Is it rechargeable?

Yeah just pour hot sweet tea into it and presto recharged ;)

It will probably not be rechargeable in the normal sense. Depending on the stability of the enzymes used and the process they use, you may be able to just add more sugar to the cell. However there is the question of whether the products of the reaction may limit the "rechargeablity". Probably they will be disposable to begin with.
r4tch3t 28th March 2007, 13:48 Quote
Hmmm, next we will hear of people eating their batteries. But they taste soo good.
Good idea, and if they have equivalent battery life to Li-ion's then these will definitely out pace lithium based batteries especially when they get the efficiency up.
Firehed 28th March 2007, 15:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by konsta
Is it rechargeable?
I'd think so - sounds just like how people get their energy. Just feed it and you're good to go. Then again, I really don't want to deal with a battery that has to use the toilet regularly...
pendragon 28th March 2007, 18:05 Quote
this sounds pretty freak'n awesome... my laptop will be one happy piece of hardware if I can get one of these for it! :D
DXR_13KE 28th March 2007, 23:48 Quote
"hey.... this battery tastes like strawberry......."
sui_winbolo 30th March 2007, 04:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehed
I'd think so - sounds just like how people get their energy. Just feed it and you're good to go. Then again, I really don't want to deal with a battery that has to use the toilet regularly...

^^^^:)


Sounds pretty dang cool.
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