Fuel Cell-Packing Cockroaches Used to Generate Electricity
February 3, 2014 12:00 PM
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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.
, 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.
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.
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2/3/2014 2:04:45 PM
Why does it seem like all that impossible crap in the movie The Matrix seems to becoming closer to reality every year???
2/3/2014 2:34:04 PM
Don't think of it that way. Think of the six million dollar man. artificial limbs running off the host's blood sugar, eliminating batteries and making them stronger and lighter. This is a good thing.
2/4/2014 9:24:58 AM
It's kind of ironic that he mentions The Matrix and yet that movie is based off another film called Ghost In The Shell in which is much more realistic than The Matrix.
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