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Future Electronics Could Be Powered by Sugar

sugar power

Finally, scientists have come up with a way to combine my two favorite things: music and sugar. Japanese researchers report in the latest issue of Energy and Environmental Science that they have created a biofuel cell that uses enzymes to break down sugars. Four of the cells combined produce 100 milliwatts of power— enough to run an MP3 player with speakers or a remote-controlled car.

Each cell consists of an anode and cathode separated by a proton-conducting membrane. Sugar—or another renewable fuel— is oxidized at the nanode, where it generates electrons and protons. The electrons and protons then combine with oxygen at the cathode to form water.

The researchers amped up the cell’s energy output by using an electron transfer mediator to move electrons between the electrodes and enzymes.

The Japanese biofuel cell is the first to have an energy output high enough for practical applications, so hopefully it will unleash a flurry of interest in the field.  And who knows—in the future, you may power even larger electronics with biofuel cells.

Photo Credit: RSC Publishing


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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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