Feeds

Electronic kit low on juice? SPIT ON IT

Boffins use graphene and bacteria to build saliva-powered fuel cells

Security for virtualized datacentres

An international group of researchers has developed a method for building microbial fuel cells (MFCs) small and efficient enough to be powered by human saliva.

The team from Penn State University in the US and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology said that the device, which relies on the decay of bacteria to produce electrons for an anode, could provide enough energy to power simple biomedical testing devices.

According to a paper published by the team in the Nature Publishing Group's Asia Materials, the introduction of a graphene-coated anode in place of conventional carbon materials allowed for the MFCs to capture and transfer higher amounts of energy.

Such a system uses saliva to react with bacteria inoculated onto a treated surface, with the resulting reaction creating power in the realm of one microwatt (mW).

Previous carbon-based anode methods had proven unable to transfer sufficient energy from the cell's surface. As the Penn State researchers noted, the use of graphene improves the kinetic transfer to the anode, allowing for a higher energy output.

A mixture of saliva and bacteria powers the experimental power cell

A mixture of saliva and bacteria powers the experimental power cell

In reaching the higher output, the team suggested that saliva reactions could serve as the source of power for some biomedical devices and procedures. One such system, outlined in the paper, would measure the saliva conductivity from a woman to determine ovulation cycles.

Researchers have been looking to MFCs as efficient tech for powering electronics at low power levels. Previous research has included the use of bodily waste as the catalyst for biological reactions that result in the production of electricity.

The PSU/KAUST team hopes that its work will help create MFC units that can function on a much smaller scale.

"This study is a first step in utilizing saliva and other highly concentrated organic fuels to power bio-electronics and holds great potential for further applications in this field," the researchers wrote in the paper.

"By producing nearly 1mW in power, this saliva-powered, micro-sized MFC already generates enough power to be directly used as an energy harvester in microelectronic applications." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.