A team of Researchers at Binghamton University, The State University of New York have developed the following step in microbial fuel cells (MFCs): a battery triggered by spit that can be used in challenging conditions where normal batteries do not function.
Binghamton University researcher Seokheun 'Sean' Choi is developing new ways to create electricity using bacteria. His small, paper-based batteries and microbial fuel cells could one day replace oil, coal or even solar energy. (CREDIT: Binghamton University, State University of New York)
For the last five years, Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi has concentrated on forming micro-power sources for use in resource-limited regions to power point-of-care (POC) diagnostic biosensors; he has developed a number of paper-based bacteria-powered batteries.
On-demand micro-power generation is required especially for point-of-care diagnostic applications in developing countries. Typically, those applications require only several tens of microwatt-level power for several minutes, but commercial batteries or other energy harvesting technologies are too expensive and over-qualified. Also, they pose environmental pollution issues.
Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Science, Binghamton University
Choi, together with Research Assistant Maedeh Mohammadifar, built a high-performance, paper-based, bacteria-powered battery by forming microbial fuel cells with inactive, freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells which produces power within minutes of adding saliva. The proposed battery produced reliable power from one drop of saliva, supplying on-board power that could be used by the next generation of disposable, paper-based POC diagnostic systems.
"The proposed battery has competitive advantages over other conventional power solutions because the biological fluid for on-demand battery activation is readily available even in the most resource-constrained settings, and the freeze-drying technology enables long-term storage of cells without degradation or denaturation," wrote the Researchers.
Choi aims to enhance the power density of the battery so that more applications can be powered.
Now, our power density is about a few microwatts per centimeter square. Although 16 microbial fuel cells connected in a series on a single sheet of paper generated desired values of electrical current and voltage to power a light-emitting diode (LED), further power improvement is required for other electronic applications demanding hundreds of milliwatts of energy.
Choi , Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Science, Binghamton University
The research paper titled "A Papertronic, On-Demand and Disposable Biobattery: Saliva-Activated Electricity Generation from Lyophilized Exoelectrogens Preinoculated on Paper," was published in Advanced Materials Technologies.