Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri have developed a fuel cell that uses sugar from almost any source from soft drinks (although not lite or diet versions though, so Coke Zero is out) to tree sap or even honey. They reckon their fuel cell could run three times longer than a conventional rechargeable lithium battery on a single charge. Better still, the fuel cell is itself biodegradable so at end of life it does not become a toxic burden on the environment like lithium or nickel-cadmium batteries.
“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,” explains team leader Shelley Minteer, an electrochemist at SLU. “It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that’s also cleaner for the environment.” Minteer reports her findings this week at the 233rd national meeting of the ACS in Chicago.
For more on how fuel cells might be improved, check out this recent item in Reactive Reports