Feeds

Electronic kit low on juice? SPIT ON IT

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

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
NASA eyeballs SOLAR HEAT BOMBS, MINI-TORNADOES and NANOFLARES on Sun
Astro boffins probe fiery star's hidden depths
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.