Scientists and researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York are working on a biobattery that could be fueled by spit. That’s right, something most of us have could come in handy for powering up low-power fuel cells. The electrical and computer science department at the university are working on microbial fuel cells. This biobattery is similar to paper and can be activated by saliva and possibly other bodily fluids.
[We have developed] a disposable, easy-to-use, and portable biobattery that can generate power from bacterial metabolism, Professor Seokheun “Sean” Choi told Digital Trends. This battery is ready to operate with human body fluids like saliva for on-demand power generation for other disposable low-power applications, such as biosensors. The battery includes specialized bacterial cells called exoelectrogens, which have the ability to harvest electrons externally to the outside electrode. For long-term storage, the bacterial cells are freeze-dried until use. This battery can be used even in challenging environmental conditions like desert areas. All you need is an organic matter — such as saliva — to rehydrate and activate the freeze-dried cells.
It would probably be pretty gross if people started spitting on their devices in public but there are likely other applications for the technology that could prove useful. We shouldn’t have to worry about it for now as the technology still needs time to mature. Currently, the biobattery can only power up one LED light on a drop of spit. This means the use of this tech could only really be used in low-power consuming products but they are working on improvements.
We are improving the power to have more applications, Choi said. Folding or stacking paper batteries will connect them in series or parallel for further power enhancement. This could allow the researchers to expand the power of the batteries from a few microwatts into hundreds, or conceivably more.