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Bio-battery cells (left) power the Walkman  (Source: Sony Corp.)
Sony is making a sweet battery technology -- literally

Sugar is a common substance we use to flavor our foods, which our bodies convert into usable energy. Sony must have figured that sugar may also be able to power some of its electronic devices, as the company has announced the development of a battery technology that generates electricity from carbohydrates utilizing enzymes as its catalyst.

The system developed by Sony generates energy from the breakdown of sugars by “immobilizing enzymes and the mediator (electronic conduction materials) while retaining the activity of the enzymes at the anode.”

Sony also said that it developed a new cathode structure which efficiently supplies oxygen to the electrode while ensuring that the appropriate water content is maintained. The careful optimization of the electrolyte for these two technologies has enabled test cells of this bio-battery to achieve power output of 50 mW – which Sony claims is currently the world's highest level for passive batteries of its kind.

The bio-battery cells measure a cubed 39mm with a volume of 40cc and generate enough power to run a Sony Walkman digital music player. It may be a while before such battery technology would be ready for the consumer market, as the current bio-battery cells are larger than the devices they can power.

Researchers elsewhere have also been investigating alternative ways to power electronics. Earlier this month, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute were able to construct a method of turning body heat into electricity using the same principal as thermoelectric generators (TEG) made from semi-conductor elements.





"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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