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Spray-on batteries grown by…viruses?

Julia Barton Aug 27, 2010

The American Chemical Society just wrapped up its national meeting in Boston, and among the presentations, a lot of interesting work on batteries.

We love battery news here at Future Tense.

And actually, judging from the papers presented, there’s a battery revolution brewing right now. Scientists are envisioning batteries as something light and flexible, something you could spray onto surfaces or even weave into clothing. All with the chemical help of creatures we usually don’t find so helpful: viruses.

But the researchers are quick to note these are not viruses that attack humans. They’re specialized strains that usually latch onto bacteria or plants. In the lab, they can be used to grow tiny cathodes and anodes, the building blocks of battery cells. These new kinds of batteries could replace bulky battery packs of the sort soldiers have to carry in the field.

And if that’s not wild enough, other scientists presented their research on using mitochondria to power fuel cells. As an ACS press release describes it

The device consists of a thin layer of mitochondria sandwiched between two electrodes, including a gas-permeable electrode. Tests showed that it produced electricity using sugar or cooking oil byproducts as fuel.

Because what cyborg-like tiny fuel cell doesn’t like an occasional chip and soda?

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