Humans have long sought alternative forms of energy, especially renewable energy that lessens our reliance on resources that cannot be replaced and are being depleted. While certain natural resources, like the sun, prove to be an obvious choice, others come as a surprise. One of the biggest is Sony’s success in developing a battery powered by sugar.
The electronics giant announced today the development of a bio battery that generates electricity from carbohydrates (sugar) by using enzymes as its catalyst, through the application of power generation principles found in living organisms. In other words, the company likely understood the affect that sugar has on small children and sought a means with which to harness such power.
The successful test cells of this bio battery have achieved power output of 50 mW, currently the world's highest level for passive-type bio batteries. The output of these test cells provides sufficient energy to power music playback on a memory-type Walkman.
In order to achieve the world’s highest power output, Sony developed a system of breaking down sugar to generate electricity that involves efficiently immobilizing enzymes and the mediator (electronic conduction materials) while also retaining the activity of the enzymes at the anode.
To promote the effective glucose digestion, the anode must contain a high concentration of enzymes and mediator. Two polymers are used to attach these components to the anode, each with an opposite charge. The ionic balance and immobilization process have been optimized for efficient electron extraction from the glucose.
Sony also developed a new cathode structure in order to efficiently supply oxygen to the electrode while ensuring that the appropriate water content was maintained. Water content within the cathode is vital to ensuring optimum condition for the efficient enzymatic reduction of oxygen. This high output level was reached by optimizing the electrolyte for these two technologies.
The bio battery does not require mixing, or the convection of glucose solution or air, as it is a passive-type battery. It works simply by supplying sugar solution into the battery unit. By connecting four cubic cells, it is possible to power a memory-type Walkman together with a pair of passive-type speakers. The bio battery casing is made of vegetable-based plastic (polylactate), and designed in the image of a biological cell.
Sugar is a naturally occurring source of energy produced by plants through photosynthesis. As a result, it is regenerative and can be found in most areas on the earth, underlining the potential for sugar-based bio batteries as an ecologically-friendly energy device of the future.
Sony expects to continue its development of immobilization systems, electrode composition and other technologies in order to further enhance power output and durability. The company aims to realize practical applications for these bio batteries in the future.
Green is the new black. At least, that’s the case in the communications industry where companies are finding that using green technology is not only good for the planet but good for business as well. Want to learn more about how being green can make money? Mark your calendar now for TMC’s (News - Alert) first annual Green Technology World Conference, Sept. 11-12, 2007 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. Preview the show schedule, speakers and exhibitors—then register to attend.