Biofuels robobug

Published on January 9th, 2012 | by Nick Bentley

5

Tiny Biofuel Cell Turns Insects into OH MY GOD RUN FOR YOUR LIVES

January 9th, 2012 by  

While biofuel stories often fill me with gimlet-eyed suspicion, I’ve now and then said to myself: if only we could mount lasers on insects and then somehow power those lasers with electricity generated from their own blood, THAT would be a biofuel application I can get behind.

Well, consider me behind it because now it almost exists. They haven’t gotten to the lasers yet (and probably won’t, because the laser idea is my pipe dream), but researchers at Case Western Reserve have developed a tiny bug-implantable biofuel cell that uses enzymes to convert the chemical energy in insect blood-sugars into electricity. The electricity can be used to power electronics, like sensors, to turn bugs into spies or first-responders, or to hold all of humanity hostage for a ransom of ONE MEEELLION DOLLARS.

For those who’d like to know something about how it’s done rather than just bask in the glorious dystopian implications, I’ll dirty my fingers with a three-sentence summary:

The system uses two enzymes: The first breaks a sugar, trehalose, into two simpler sugars. The second oxidizes them, which releases electrons. Max power density was close to 100 microwatts per square centimeter at 0.2 volts and max current density was ~450 microamps per square centimeter, if that means anything to you.

This is good news for me because it annoys me when a bug buzzes around my head and it’s got a dirty combustion engine on it.

Now, when our technology turns against us and a weaponized grub army destroys us all, at least their emissions will be low.

This is still lab bench technology, so who knows what will ultimately become of it. I hope that the researchers can adapt their reaction so that I can run my laptop off my fat.

P.S. for those baffled by what the bug in the pic is saying, I commend you for not having spent the last decade mindlessly surfing the web, and also read this.

Image via nickwheeleroz 
 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
 
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

 

Tags: , , ,


About the Author

Nick Bentley is a Climate Change activist, Neurobiologist, and Tom Jones Appreciator. His ignorance is encyclopedic.



  • Krusty

    The Matrix prophecy.

  • douglas prince

    i kin has cheezburger?

  • guest

    As far as I understood your short description of the mechanism, the second enzyme oxidizes the simple sugar, which releases electrons. In order to have some kind of electricity (volts) those electrons have to flow some where in an ordered fashion (cable?) without interaction with potential protons ….
    Since I am not aware of cabeled bugs it still sound like a nice joke…
    I would like to suggest to those researchers to use this energy with fluorescent proteins, that can actually produce light from oxidized sugars, and put all these bugs in a big shiny bag to light my back yard 🙂

  • Guest

    Why dumb it down with the mention of not knowing what the bug is saying? If people don’t know, screw them.

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

    cost-of-solar-down
  • Search the IM Network


Shares