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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RE: Precursor to 'The Matrix'?
2/3/2014 2:31:44 PM
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.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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