Scientists Develop Entirely Textile-Based, Bacteria-Powered Bio-Battery

A team of researchers led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York have created a totally textile-based, bacteria-powered bio-battery that could one day be incorporated into wearable electronics.

Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi, created an entirely textile-based biobattery that can produce maximum power similar to that produced by his previous paper-based microbial fuel cells. Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York

The team, headed by Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi, developed a totally textile-based biobattery that can generate maximum power similar to that produced by his earlier paper-based microbial fuel cells.

Moreover, these textile-based biobatteries display stable electricity-generating capability when examined under recurrent stretching and twisting cycles.

Choi said that this stretchable, twistable power device could launch a standardized platform for textile-based biobatteries and will be potentially combined into wearable electronics in the future.

There is a clear and pressing need for flexible and stretchable electronics that can be easily integrated with a wide range of surroundings to collect real-time information, those electronics must perform reliably even while intimately used on substrates with complex and curvilinear shapes, like moving body parts or organs. We considered a flexible, stretchable, miniaturized biobattery as a truly useful energy technology because of their sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly capabilities.

Seokheun Choi, Assistant Professor,  Electrical and Computer Science Binghamton University

In contrast to traditional batteries and other enzymatic fuel cells, microbial fuel cells can be the most ideal power source for wearable electronics because the entire microbial cells as a biocatalyst provide stable enzymatic reactions and an extended lifetime, said Choi.

Sweat produced from the human body can be a potential fuel to support bacterial possibility, delivering the long-term operation of the microbial fuel cells.

If we consider that humans possess more bacterial cells than human cells in their bodies, the direct use of bacterial cells as a power resource interdependently with the human body is conceivable for wearable electronics.

Seokheun Choi, Assistant Professor,  Electrical and Computer Science Binghamton University

This research received support from the National Science Foundation, the Binghamton University Research Foundation and a Binghamton University ADL (Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory) Small Grant.

The paper titled "Flexible and Stretchable Biobatteries: Monolithic Integration of Membrane-Free Microbial Fuel Cells in a Single Textile Layer," has been published in Advanced Energy Materials.

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