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article imageBacteria powered battery built on sheet of paper

By Tim Sandle     Jan 22, 2017 in Science
New York - In the quest to find new and efficient means of generating power a research group have developed a battery, resembling a thin sheet of paper, which is powered by microorganisms.
The aim of the battery is to provide sufficient power to run disposable electronics. To do so the research group aimed to construct a battery that had a short manufacturing time and was of a low cost. Applications include parts of the world where resources are limited. The initial success suggests a new generation of bio-batteries could be coming.
A bio-battery is, as with a conventional battery, an energy storing device. The difference is that the battery is powered by organic compounds, the most common being usually being glucose. An alternative area of development is with the use of bacteria. Here some bacteria are efficient in converting glucose into energy and thus produce electricity. Suitable bacteria can be optimized through genetic engineering.
With the new research, Binghamton University, State University of New York scientists have used a piece of chromatography paper and placed a ribbon of silver nitrate underneath a thin layer of wax to create a cathode. From this, the researchers constructed a reservoir from a conductive polymer on the other half of the paper, which acted as the anode. After folding the paper, a few droplets of bacteria-filled liquid were added. Finally, the bacteria’s cellular respiration powers the battery.
Various experiments optimized the process. With this variations with folding and stacking methods significantly improved power and current outputs. Although the amount of power generated is low compared with conventional batteries applications include use in remote areas by medics or on battlefields where a short burst of power is required for a sensor or instrument.
Outlining the usefulness, the lead researcher Professor Seokheun "Sean" Choi said: “Papertronics have recently emerged as a simple and low-cost way to power disposable point-of-care diagnostic sensors.”
He also adds: “Stand-alone and self-sustained, paper-based, point-of-care devices are essential to providing effective and life-saving treatments in resource-limited settings.”
The research has been published in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies and it is called “Stepping Toward Self-Powered Papertronics: Integrating Biobatteries into a Single Sheet of Paper.”
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