Scientists say that in the future mobile devices like cell phones, MP3 players and other products may feature a fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source, from soft drinks to tree sap.
One of the advantages is that this will offer three to four times longer battery life than conventional li-ion batteries.
For consumers, that could mean significantly longer time to talk and play music between charges. The new battery, which is also biodegradable, could eventually replace lithium ion batteries in many portable electronic applications, including computers, the scientists say. Their findings were described at the 233rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
"This study shows that renewable fuels can be directly employed in batteries at room temperature to lead to more energy-efficient battery technology than metal-based approaches," says study leader Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., an electrochemist at Saint Louis University. "It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that's also cleaner for the environment."
Using sugar for fuel is not a new concept: Sugar in the form of glucose supplies the energy needs of all living things. While nature has figured out how to harness this energy efficiently, scientists only recently have learned how to unleash the energy-dense power of sugar to produce electricity, Minteer says.