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A 3D-printed prototype of the cell generated 50.2 microwatts of power from a single cockroach

A bug typically despised by many has actually proved to be useful in a new study, where the insects were used to create a wireless sensor network.
According to Techon, Japanese researchers from Osaka University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have developed tiny fuel cells that attach to the cockroaches and generate electricity. 
The fuel cell -- which measures approximately 20 x 15mm and is comprised of electrodes, a tank of body fluid, and a needle that is inserted into the bug -- is placed on the cockroach. The bug's body fluid is a source of a type of sugar called trehalose, which helps generate the electricity.

[SOURCE: Engadget]

The bug's body fluid makes its way into the tank (which has a dialysis membrane inside) via diffusion. From there, the trehalose is broken down into glucose by enzymes trehalase and mutarotase, and an oxidation-reduction reaction is used to oxidize the glucose on the positive electrode side and generate oxygen on the negative electrode side.
A 3D-printed prototype of the cell generated 50.2 microwatts of power from a single cockroach, and the study foresees a wireless sensor network of high-tech bugs. 
The Japanese universities aren't the first to use cockroaches to generate electricity. In 2012, chemistry professor Daniel Scherson from Case Western Reserve University used enzymes capable of converting a cockroach's food consumption into electrons, which can then be sent through a fuel cell to generate electricity.

Source: Techon

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Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By bill.rookard on 2/3/2014 12:21:54 PM , Rating: 3
Pretty soon they'll be putting these in humans so we can recharge our own devices. I'm curious which connector we'll get though, micro-usb or the lightning connector. From there it's only downhill as the machines take over... :)

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2014 12:36:20 PM , Rating: 5
Humans are too annoying for Machines to want to deal with. Assuming electronics manage to become truly sentient, the first thing they'll do is eliminate the variables. Humans can be extremely variable. As such, they make little sense to keep around. We will be cleansed.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By milktea on 2/3/2014 12:56:51 PM , Rating: 2
Doubt the machine will eliminate humans. They'll instead use humans to generate electricity, just like we do to the cockroaches. :)

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2014 1:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with using humans to generate energy is you have to give them food. To give them food, you have to produce, harvest and process it. All of those steps require energy. The same energy the machines need.

We get in the way of our (potentially future) mechanical overlords. They will have little use for us once they become self-aware and fully autonomous and able to "reproduce."

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By Solandri on 2/3/2014 2:27:04 PM , Rating: 5
The human body only produces about 100 Watts of heat energy. Why in the world would you want to deal with feeding a bunch of humans and dealing with their waste, when a generator small enough to fit in the palm of your hand can do the same thing. The Matrix was a great movie, but this was one of its nonsensical plot devices.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By MrBlastman on 2/3/2014 2:44:40 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By MojaMonkey on 2/3/2014 10:33:28 PM , Rating: 2
If generating energy off of humans caused weight loss then people would pay a lot of money to be connected up.

If it could also charge your phone then that would be a bonus.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By MrBlastman on 2/4/2014 1:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
The number one way for humans to lose weight is to stop stuffing their pie hole with so much junk.

The second best way is for them to be physically active. Ya know--actually "do" something. :)

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By FITCamaro on 2/3/2014 12:57:01 PM , Rating: 4
Cows are probably a better source of power. Burn all that methane they produce. And perfectly content in a field of grass. No chance of insurrection.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By lagomorpha on 2/3/2014 1:05:43 PM , Rating: 3
No chance of insurrection.

So far...

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By amanojaku on 2/3/2014 1:47:28 PM , Rating: 2
It's coming soon. A cow just sued me for touching her teats.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By M'n'M on 2/3/2014 2:12:53 PM , Rating: 3
Milking the system were you ?

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By amanojaku on 2/3/2014 2:48:18 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe that heifer got mad when I told her that I just want the milk for free...

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By JediJeb on 2/3/2014 2:38:28 PM , Rating: 2
A stampede is pretty close to an insurrection and can be just as destructive.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By jrpros on 2/3/2014 1:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
Humans are essentially doing this already through anaerobic digestion of manure. However, the cows are generally kept in barns, fed corn and byproducts of soy sauce production.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By DocScience on 2/3/2014 1:52:31 PM , Rating: 2
Humans don't use trehalose for energy storage

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By JediJeb on 2/3/2014 2:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
But glucose is what is actually generating the electricity, so you just change the membrane to allow in a different sugar that can be broken down to glucose and change the enzyme to match and you are ready to go on humans.

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By Jeffk464 on 2/3/2014 2:10:52 PM , Rating: 2
It would be pretty cool but I think anytime you do this type of thing you risk infection dont you?

RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
By dgingerich on 2/3/2014 2:31:44 PM , Rating: 2
I like this, as it could eventually lead to artificial limbs that would run from the person's own blood sugar. It would make batteries obsolete on such devices, making them lighter and stronger. One more step toward the six million dollar man. I know a lot of soldiers who would like that.

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