One of the most resilient creatures on the planet is the cockroach. Those little bugs can be very hard to kill. Researchers at Osaka University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have worked together on a project that developed a fuel cell that could transform the bugs into a wireless sensor network.
The little fuel cell that is attached to the bugs generates electricity by using trehalose, a type of sugar that is contained in the roach’s body fluid. The fuel cell has electrodes, a tank of body fluid, and a needle that is inserted into the bug.
The tank has a dialysis membrane inside and the fluid from the bug’s body flows into the tank by diffusion. The trehalose is broken down into glucose by enzymes. The glucose is then oxidized on the positive electrode side and oxygen is generated on the negative electrode side using an oxidation-reduction reaction.
The fuel cell on the bugs was able to generate 50.2 μW of power. The researchers at the university plan to use the fuel cell as a power source that doesn’t need to be replaced for a long period in projects using cyborg bugs. Other institutions have been working on remotely controlled insects that can be used as wireless sensors.