I love Science magazines because I always find seemingly impossible things that could come true. From Virginia Tech’s Y. H. Percival Zhang comes this information:
Even today’s best rechargeable lithium batteries do lose their ability to hold a charge after a while, and are considered toxic waste once discarded. In just a few years, they may be replaced by batteries that are refillable and biodegradable, and that will also have a higher energy density yet a lower price … and they’ll run on sugar.
“Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,” says Zhang, who is leading the research. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”Its energy density is “an order of magnitude higher than others, a type of enzymatic fuel cell.” The catalyst in its anode is made from inexpensive enzymes, as opposed to the costly platinum that’s used in regular batteries. When the maltodextrin is combined with air, water and electricity are produced. Unlike the hydrogen fuel cell, the sugar battery is non-explosive and non-flammable.
Zhang envisions users refilling the batteries with sugar when they need refueling, “much like filling a printer cartridge with ink.” He hopes that they may be powering electronic devices in as little as three years.
A paper on his research was published today in the journal Nature Communications.
Well, shoot, I guess pouring sugar in your gas tank isn’t going to happen. I was hopeful, though until that last sentence, “electronic devices.” But then, sugar batteries would probably make our chocolate bars, candy, and sweet rolls VEEERRRRYY expensive if we tried to run cars on sugar. Maybe solve the obesity problem. Reminds me of that song, “….sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar in the sumertime…” I think that was a different kind of sugar though.
Sugar does alleviate boredom between a doctor’s appointment, taxes and my haircut yesterday.