In as little as three years, a new sugar-powered battery could be powering cell phones, tablets, and more.
Researchers have harnessed the energy stored in sugar before, but the a battery recently developed at Virginia Tech has a much higher energy density than the others. It is thus considerably closer to becoming a viable product for common use.
Y.H. Percival Zhang published his team’s findings in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, stating “Sugar-powered biobatteries could serve as next-generation green power sources, particularly for portable electronics.”
Comparison of Energy Density: Sugar vs. Alkaline and Lithium
AA alkaline and lithium batteries have an energy density of about 150 to 250 Wh/kg-1
Sugar batteries have an energy density of more than 2,000 Wh/kg-1
Image of batteries via Shutterstock
How it’s Made
AVirginia Tech press release explains how the batteries are made:
“Zhang and his colleagues constructed a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar to generate electricity in an enzymatic fuel cell. Then, low-cost biocatalyst enzymes are used as catalyst instead of costly platinum, which is typically used in conventional batteries.
“Like all fuel cells, the sugar battery combines fuel—in this case, maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from partial hydrolysis of starch—with air to generate electricity and water as the main byproducts.”
Zhang said, according to the release: “We are releasing all electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly step-by-step by using an enzyme cascade.”
*Image of sugar via Shutterstock