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
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.