Binghamton University researchers design a saliva powered battery


Microbial Fuel Cells

Now, Binghamton University researchers developed the next step in microbial fuel cells. Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) are a bio-electrochemical system operates an electric current by using bacteria and mimicking bacterial interactions found in nature.

The researchers created a battery that runs on a drop of saliva. The battery can use diagnostic applications even in extreme conditions where normal batteries don’t function.

Researcher Seokheun Choi develops micro-power sources used in resource-limited regions to the power point-of-care (POC) diagnostic biosensors. He created several paper-based batteries and microbial fuel cells.

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On-demand micro-power generation require especially for POC diagnostic applications in developing countries, said Choi. Those applications require only tens of micro watt level power for several minutes, but other energy harvesting technologies are too expensive. Also, they pose environmental pollution issues.


Choi and his team created a high-performance bacteria-powered battery by building microbial fuel cells contain freeze-dried Exoelectrogenic cells which generates power when adding saliva.

The proposed battery generated reliable power with just one drop of saliva, supplying on-board power that could use the next generation of disposable, paper-based POC diagnostic platforms.

The proposed battery has competitive advantages over other conventional power solutions because the biological fluid for on-demand battery activation readily available even in the most resource-constrained settings. Also, the freeze-drying technology enables long-term storage of cells without degradation or denaturation. Choi is focused on improving the batter’s power density so that more applications can be powered.

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The freeze dry allows the cells to be stored for a long time before using, which would allow them to be stocked in medical clinics around the world. The other benefit is that the biological fluid needed to activate them is readily available anywhere at any time.

Currently, the battery produces only a few microwatts of power per square centimeter, but researchers working on boosting the output. The microbial fuel cells connected with power things like LED lights, but researchers working on making the battery more robust to power other devices.

More information: [Advanced Materials Technologies]