My iPod has a sweet tooth
Researchers at Saint Louis U. (Missouri) have developed a fuel cell battery that operates up to 3X-4X longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries — and is the technology device equivalent of a billy goat, running on virtually any sugar source fed to it, including soft drinks and even tree sap.
The battery (which is also biodegradable) contains enzymes that convert fuel into electricity, with water as a byproduct. Saint Louis U. electrochemist Shelley Minteer says her postage-stamp-sized prototype battery can successfully run a handheld calculator, and could be ready for commercialization in three to five years.
So far, the battery’s most impressive feature appears to be its iron stomach — it has been shown to run on glucose, flat sodas, sweetened drink mixes and tree sap. Table sugar (sucrose) dissolved in water appears to be the most efficient source; even carbonated soda works, but the carbonation appears to weaken the fuel cell.
Initial applications include portable phone rechargers prefilled with sugar solutions for “on-the-go” charging. The Department of Defense, which is funding the research, also is interested in battlefield and emergency situations where access to electricity is limited, such as in remote sensors for biological/chemical weapons detection.