Sweet Power

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Many scientists and researchers are working on improving energy storage - a very important aspect of sustainable energy, whether used to power vehicles or storing renewable energy.

Retaining a charge and then what to do with ‘toxic’ batteries once they are no longer useful are just two of the major challenges to be overcome, but work at Virginia Tech in the US is denting these problems, using sugar!

Using sugar we may see batteries that are refillable and biodegradable, at a lower price than lithium batteries plus with higher energy intensity..

Prof. Y.H. Percival Zhang, who is leading the research at Virgina Tech, explains: ”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."

In a paper in nature.com it describes the battery as an Enzymatic fuel cell containing a 15% (wt/v) maltodextrin solution with an energy-storage density of 596 Ah kg−1, which is one order of magnitude higher than that of lithium-ion batteries. Sugar-powered biobatteries could serve as next-generation green power sources, particularly for portable electronics.

The batteries could be recharged, as it were, by refilling with sugar, not unlike topping up an ink cartridge for a computer printer.

It is hoped, by Zhang, that the batteries could be available in around three years time - which, compared to most projects that seem to look in to the distant future, is sweet.

Picture of raw sugar by Editor at Large (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: General, Reviews, Technology

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

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