Researchers Daniel Scott and Bor Yann Liaw of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute have published the results of their experiments in harnessing electric power from sugar. Their report was published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science where they described a simple, inexpensive approach to harness chemical energy from glucose, converting it directly to electric power without a precious metal, enzyme or microorganism catalyst to promote monosaccharide oxidation.
The researchers said that although carbohydrates play a central role in the biochemical pathways of biological systems, current technologies do not allow us to seriously consider the direct oxidation of monosaccharides such as glucose as a prominent source of power for electronic devices.
The design of their abiotic anode above, using inexpensive chemical dyes in alkaline solutions with high-surface-carbon materials is capable of harnessing electrical power from glucose. In conjunction with a commercial air-breathing electrode the resulting cell can generate maximum power at about 0.3 V and more than 9 mA cm-2; thus more than 2.5 mW cm-2. This power density surpasses any existing biotic or abiotic design.
Scott and Liaw feel this approach might open the door to a broader possibility in using such monosaccharides in energy storage and harvesting to power small devices.
Credit: Energy and Environmental Science
Top image: Bor Yann Liaw, source Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
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