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Bacteria-Powered Batteries for Disposable Electronics

Bio-batteries have always been an area of interest for scientists and electronics developers alike but no solution has so far managed to beat the traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Despite their relative harmful effect on the environment and lack of usage sustainability, they have been a favourite among consumers since their creation. It can be predicted that only a very prominent solution could challenge the dominance of lithium-ion batteries.

One contender for this is the recently emerged bacteria-powered battery. It is the work of researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, who have discovered a way to turn a piece of bacteria-filled paper into a working energy source. With a few modifications including silver nitrate, wax and a conductive polymer, liquid drops of bacteria are added and the paper is then folded in a certain way, allowing for cellular respiration to generate electricity. This new area of science that is based on paper has lately grown in popularity, becoming known as “papertronics”.

The researchers estimate the battery to be best suited for disposable electronic devices – short-life cameras, e-cigarettes, glow sticks, etc. They are described to be the perfect fit for dangerous, remote and resource-limited areas and are easy to replace due to time and cost minimisation-associated ease of production. As we see it at Dashboard, this could be the power solution for sensors in the oil, gas and infrastructure industries, the conditions of which match the intended purpose with near precision.

This is a sensational new method of creating power, in terms of finding adaptable solutions in completely new forms, such as paper – without even taking into account the massive sustainability-related consequences it has. The green energy on a smaller scale – which has sometimes been overlooked in favour of gigantic plans for solar and wind farms – is visibly being given more priority and Dashboard is happy to see where it can be taken in the future. For now, however, we give all the deserved credit to Binghamton University, who are leading with this progress.