Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A paper battery powered by bacteria

21.08.2018

In remote areas of the world or in regions with limited resources, everyday items like electrical outlets and batteries are luxuries. Health care workers in these areas often lack electricity to power diagnostic devices, and commercial batteries may be unavailable or too expensive. New power sources are needed that are low-cost and portable. Today, researchers report a new type of battery -- made of paper and fueled by bacteria --- that could overcome these challenges.

The researchers will present their results today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.


Researchers harnessed bacteria to power these paper batteries.

Credit: Seokheun Choi

"Paper has unique advantages as a material for biosensors," says Seokheun (Sean) Choi, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting. "It is inexpensive, disposable, flexible and has a high surface area. However, sophisticated sensors require a power supply. Commercial batteries are too wasteful and expensive, and they can't be integrated into paper substrates. The best solution is a paper-based bio-battery."

Researchers have previously developed disposable paper-based biosensors for cheap and convenient diagnosis of diseases and health conditions, as well as for detecting contaminants in the environment. Many such devices rely on color changes to report a result, but they often aren't very sensitive. To boost sensitivity, the biosensors need a power supply. Choi wanted to develop an inexpensive paper battery powered by bacteria that could be easily incorporated into these single-use devices.

So Choi and his colleagues at the State University of New York, Binghamton made a paper battery by printing thin layers of metals and other materials onto a paper surface. Then, they placed freeze-dried "exoelectrogens" on the paper. Exoelectrogens are a special type of bacteria that can transfer electrons outside of their cells.

The electrons, which are generated when the bacteria make energy for themselves, pass through the cell membrane. They can then make contact with external electrodes and power the battery. To activate the battery, the researchers added water or saliva. Within a couple of minutes, the liquid revived the bacteria, which produced enough electrons to power a light-emitting diode and a calculator.

The researchers also investigated how oxygen affects the performance of their device. Oxygen, which passes easily through paper, could soak up electrons produced by the bacteria before they reach the electrode. The team found that although oxygen slightly decreased power generation, the effect was minimal. This is because the bacterial cells were tightly attached to the paper fibers, which rapidly whisked the electrons away to the anode before oxygen could intervene.

The paper battery, which can be used once and then thrown away, currently has a shelf-life of about four months. Choi is working on conditions to improve the survival and performance of the freeze-dried bacteria, enabling a longer shelf life. "The power performance also needs to be improved by about 1,000-fold for most practical applications," Choi says. This could be achieved by stacking and connecting multiple paper batteries, he notes. Choi has applied for a patent for the battery and is seeking industry partners for commercialization.

###

The researchers acknowledge support and funding from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the Research Foundation for the State University of New York.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive press releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Note to journalists: Please report that this research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

Title

Merging Electronic Bacteria with Paper

Abstract

The next generation of electronics requires new device platforms that can be integrated with non-planar surroundings for the emerging Internet-of-Things (IoT) and be environmentally-friendly to reduce the dramatic increase in electronic waste (e-waste). Paper-based electronics (papertronics) have been recently considered as one of the most exciting device platforms because of their flexibility, sustainability, eco-friendliness, and low cost as well as their excellent mechanical, dielectrical and fluidic properties. Now, innovative structure engineering techniques can manipulate diameters of the cellulose fibers of paper, smoothing the roughness and controlling the transparency for numerous device applications. Novel functionalization techniques of paper with organic, inorganic, and biological entities enable many engineering possibilities, revolutionizing papertronics for the next generation of electronics. Among those techniques for new functionalities, integrating electric bacteria into paper has attracted considerable interest as a new energy technique for papertronics. Paper has unique synergistic characteristics including a porous and hydrophilic environment for bacterial viability, a high surface area for bacterial accumulation, and sustainability even in resource-limited settings. A simple, paper-based device can use the respiration of electric bacteria to harvest electrons. In this work, we pursued comprehensive analytical and experimental approaches to provide a novel but realistic and accessible power source from bacteria loaded into paper. This report provides new approaches to revolutionarily activate the biobattery and significantly improve its shelf life. Furthermore, we ensure for the first time the practical efficacy of the explored technique, generating on-demand energy even in resource-limited environments to power a light-emitting diode and an electric calculator.

Media Contact

ACS Press Center in Boston, Aug. 19-22
617-954-3960
newsroom@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.
301-775-8455
k_cottingham@acs.org

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D. | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Saving energy by taking a close look inside transistors
10.01.2019 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Tandem Solar Cells – Record Efficiency for Silicon-based Multi-junction Solar Cell
08.01.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

Im Focus: Programming light on a chip

Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Artificially produced cells communicate with each other: Models of life

17.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Velcro for human cells

16.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Kiel physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids

16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>