Go Back   Old Project Avalon Forum (ARCHIVE) > Project Avalon Forum > What’s Going Down > What Does It Mean ?

Notices

What Does It Mean ? What does this all mean for the Ground Crew ?

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-16-2009, 04:34 AM   #1
judykott
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Calgary, Canada
Posts: 711
Default Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood



http://www.newscientist.com/article/...man-blood.html

* 12:47 01 April 2009 by Kurt Kleiner
* For similar stories, visit the Energy and Fuels Topic Guide

Yeast cells feeding on the glucose in human blood might one day power implants such as pacemakers. A living source of power that is able to regenerate itself would eliminate the need for regular operations to replace batteries.

Now that prospect is a step nearer. A team at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, has created tiny microbial fuel cells by encapsulating yeast cells in a flexible capsule. They went on to show the fuel cells can generate power from a drop of human blood plasma.

Such fuel cells would be especially useful for devices, such as intraspinal microelectrodes for treating paralysis, which need to be implanted in places where replacing a battery is tricky, says Mu Chiao, who co-authored the paper with Chin-Pang-Billy Siu, also at UBC.
Electron theft

Conventional fuel cells rely on high-temperature catalysts such as platinum to strip electrons from fuels and generate a current. The idea with microbial fuel cells, which are being investigated as large-scale power sources, is to exploit the wide range of low-temperature catalysts – enzymes – found in living cells.

The easiest way to do this is to simply steal the electrons produced when cells start to break down food. This can be done with the help of an "electron mediator" – a chemical small enough to pass into cells, grab some electrons, and diffuse out again.

The new fuel cell consists of a colony of Saccharomyces cerevisiae – the kind of yeast commonly used in brewing and baking – encapsulated in a fuel cell made of a form of silicone called polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). The prototype is 15 millimetres square and 1.4 mm thick.

Methyl blue – a chemical often used to stain biological samples – is used as the electron mediator. This steals some of the electrons produced when the yeast metabolises glucose and delivers them to the anode side of the cell, creating a small current. On the cathode side, hydrogen ions that diffuse out of the yeast cells combine with oxygen to create water.
Waste problem

To increase the surface area of the electrodes and thus boost the fuel cell's power output, the team used a silicon etching technique to create "micropillars" roughly 40 micrometers square and 8 micrometers high (see image).

The yeast-based fuel cell produces around 40 nanowatts of power, compared to the microwatt a typical wristwatch battery might produce, Chaio says. That might be enough power for some devices if it were coupled with a capacitor to allow energy to be stored. The yeast could also be genetically engineered to boost its power output.

The work is a step in the right direction, but huge challenges remain, says Lars Angenent, who works on microbial fuel cells at Cornell University.

For instance, to keep the yeast cells healthy, their waste products will need to be removed without allowing any harmful substances to leach out into the blood stream. "I think people will figure this out. This is a first step," he says.

Journal reference: Journal of Microelectrical Systems (DOI: 10.1109/JMEMS.2008.2006816)
judykott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 04:46 AM   #2
Dantheman62
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: So. Cal. U.S.
Posts: 4,205
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Wow micobial fuel cells from yeast! Weird, and 40 nanowatts is not much power, but it's a start.
I'm sure they'll be spending a lot of "dough" on it, and hopefully they'll "rise" to the occasion!
Sorry I had to, LOL
Dantheman62 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 05:51 AM   #3
Brinty
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Blackbutt, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 1,004
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Hmm, I wonder if that's why fresh bread gives me indigestion?
Brinty is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 06:02 AM   #4
feeler
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 360
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

That would be the greatest discovery since the penicillin.


-feeler
feeler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 08:27 AM   #5
Swanny
I dont need a label !
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The Shire of Wilt
Posts: 2,889
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dantheman62 View Post
Wow micobial fuel cells from yeast! Weird, and 40 nanowatts is not much power, but it's a start.
I'm sure they'll be spending a lot of "dough" on it, and hopefully they'll "rise" to the occasion!
Sorry I had to, LOL
Swanny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 09:05 AM   #6
Antaletriangle
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: U.K.
Posts: 3,380
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Good post-interesting stuff.
Antaletriangle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2009, 10:49 AM   #7
Anchor
Avalon Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,280
Default Re: Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Oh nice! Now they can put active chips in us, and not just passive ones.

A..
Anchor is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 11:38 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Project Avalon