Battery innovations have promised to change mobile technology for the everyday user, and we’ve seen all sorts related breakthroughs, from the 30-second battery charge to the urine-powered Samsung cell phone. One of the newest comes from Virginia Tech researchers who have created a high-energy density battery that runs on sugar, making way for cheaper biodegradable offerings.
Batteries are, by and large, wasteful — disposable ones are thrown away, and while rechargeable batteries have a longer life span overall, they still end up unusable in time and are either thrown away or recycled. By creating a biodegradable battery, this problem becomes largely a non-issue. The sugar-powered battery could end up within consumer technology in the next three years.
Said Associate Professor of Biological System Engineering Y. H. Percival Zhang, “Sugar 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.” This isn’t the first sugar battery to be developed, this particular battery has a higher energy density than previous innovations, meaning it won’t need to be charged as often.
The battery works by way of a synthetic enzymatic pathway that removes charge potentials from the sugar. This results in the generation of electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell, according to Phys.org, which — in conjunction with a cheap biocatalyst enzyme — forms a battery that eschews commonly used and expensive platinum metal. The result is a battery that is refillable with cheap sugar, is non-flammable, and not explosive.