Now if your cell phone dies, just toss some Sweet Tarts in the battery

Researchers at Saint Louis University have developed a fuel cell battery that can run on any type of sugar source.  The batteries can run on anything from soft drinks to syrup and are said to last 3 to 4 times longer than lithium ion batteries.  The funding for the research was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The sugar battery works by using enzymes to strip sugars of charges which generate electricity.  The main byproduct of the fuel cell is water and all materials that compose the battery are biodegradable, states the press release from the American Chemical Society.

“This study shows that renewable fuels can be directly employed in batteries at room temperature to lead to more energy-efficient battery technology than metal-based approaches,” says study leader Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., an electrochemist at Saint Louis University. “It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that’s also cleaner for the environment.”

The only tested sugar products have been flat soda, glucose, sweetened liquids and tree sap which have showed good results.  When testing with sweetened carbonated beverages, the results did not turn out so well, says Minteer.

Minteer envisions that the sugar battery will first be used for cell phone rechargers.  The hope is that cell phone batteries would, once depleted, use a sugar reserve compartment to refuel the battery. 

Future development of the fuel cell has its sights on longer duration and variable environmental conditions.  No information has been released about mass production or public release.

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