New battery development is sugar sweet

New research in the US suggests sugar could be used as a fuel source for mobile phones and other electronics equipment within the next five years.

St Louis University has developed a fuel cell that is able to run on any source of sugar, including fizzy drinks. The researchers behind the development reckon the development can run between three and four times longer than traditional lithium ion batteries.

“This study shows that renewable fuels can be directly employed in batteries at room temperature to lead to more energy-efficient battery technology than metal-based approaches,” said Shelly Minteer, who is leading the study. Minteer has been running a prototype version of the fuel cell to power a handheld calculator.

Key to the research is the cell’s environmental pedigree. Sugar is used – in one form or another – by all living organisms to make energy with very little, if any, negative effect on the environment.

The researchers put enzymes in with the sugar batteries to convert the sugar into electricity. Minteer has successfully run batteries on glucose, fizzy drinks and tree sap.

The research is being funded by the US Department of Defence and future work will look at the cell’s operation in varying environmental conditions.

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