Italian scientists have created an electronic battery made from organic materials found in food. Believe it or not, this means you can eat their energy source after it runs out! It can also be healthy because it contains essential vitamins and minerals. More importantly, this unique technology can reduce e-waste and improve various healthcare procedures.
Imagine if you could just eat broken gadgets instead of throwing them in the landfill. They could nourish you while keeping our world from accumulating more garbage. Also, the researchers said, it could improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. This energy cell can also facilitate the monitoring of food quality.
This article will discuss how scientists at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia created an edible battery. Later, I’ll look at other emerging battery technologies that use unusual green alternatives.
How did they make an edible battery?
The edible energy cell uses digestible substances from common foodstuffs as battery components. Let’s briefly discuss how a battery works to explain its parts.
Batteries convert stored chemical energy into electrical energy. It transfers electrons from one end electrode (anode) to another electrode (cathode).
An electrolyte solution is in the middle of these electrodes, balancing the electron flow. Most batteries use chemicals such as manganese dioxide, zinc and cobalt dioxide.
On the other hand, an edible battery uses vitamin B2 or riboflavin for the anode. This nutrient is commonly found in beef, dairy products, eggs, grains, and mushrooms.
The cathode consisted of an additive found in red onions and capers called quercetin. In addition, the electrolyte is a mixture of activated carbon and a water-based solution.
Advanced Science News says activated charcoal is a common black food coloring and medicinal component. “The separator needed in any battery to avoid short circuits is made from nori seaweed, like the kind found in sushi,” said Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia researcher Mario Caironi.
“Specifically, we found a suitable edible material for each individual component that is needed to realize a working battery,” he added. He further explained that the edible power source operates at 0.65 volts (V), a safe voltage for ingestion.
The battery provides tens of microamps (μA) for over 10 minutes. “Although limited in capacity, what we have demonstrated is already sufficient to power small electronic devices, such as low-power LEDs, for a limited time,” Kaironi said.
Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia develops other electronic parts with consumables. “Once we crack edible transistors, we’ll be able to build edible logic devices and power them with the battery,” Kaironi concluded.
What are the latest innovations in batteries?
The edible battery is a truly unique battery technology. After all, when have you ever heard of a consumable gadget? Yet, the following innovations are also transforming the way we power devices:
- Batteries with structural components: Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have created a battery that is a structural component of electric cars. As a result, the weight of electric cars can be reduced.
- Carbon nanotube electrodes: NAWA Technologies has invented a new battery technology that packs ten times the power of current EV power cells.
- Seawater batteries: IBM Research has discovered a way to create EV batteries without heavy metals. It uses seawater materials so it will be cheaper to build.
- Sand batteries: University of California Riverside has developed a battery technology that produces pure silicon from sand. The materials allow an EV battery to have three times the performance of current graphite-based energy cells.
- Silicon anode batteries: The University of Eastern Finland has found a way to replace graphite with silicon to improve battery performance. In addition, the new battery technology is environmentally friendly as it consists of ash from barley husks.
Researchers at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have created an edible battery made of nutrients. As a result, it can reduce e-waste as it will allow people to consume non-functional devices instead of throwing them away.
“This edible battery is also very interesting to the energy storage community. Building safer batteries without the use of toxic materials is a challenge we face as the demand for batteries grows,” said Ivan Ilić, one of the study’s co-authors.
Learn more about food battery technology on the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia website. Also, check out more digital tips and trends at Inquirer Tech.