Researchers make high energy density battery that runs on sugar

Brittany A. Roston - Jan 21, 2014, 4:19pm CST
Researchers make high energy density battery that runs on sugar

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, 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.


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