Researchers develop sugar-powered batteries


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Virginia Tech researchers have developed a sugar-powered battery said to be able to store 10 times more power than lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in smart phones and electric cars, of the same size.

“Sugar is a perfect energy-storage compound in nature,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, in a Guardian report. "So it's only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery."

A series of 13 enzymes break down the starch in a synthetic pathway, releasing 24 electrons per unit of glucose. As electrons are drawn through the anode to the cathode in the fuel cell’s circuit, a power current is generated.

Water is the byproduct of this fuel cell, making this an environmentally friendly power source. Unlike hydrogen or methanol fuel cells, the starch solution used in this sugar battery is not explosive or flammable.

Zhang said this technology would be available in as soon as three years to power handheld devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and portable video game consoles.
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