Do Paper-Powered Batteries from Sony Have a Future?
Sony has come up with an interesting way to power electronics that uses old cardboard and some enzymes. Calling it a bio battery, the company thinks the technology shows promise.
Bio Battery as Eco-Friendly?
PhysOrg reports, "As an environmental products fair opened in Tokyo, Sony invited children to put paper into a mixture of water and enzymes, shake it up and wait for a few minutes to see the liquid become a source of electricity, powering a small fan."
Chisato Kitsukawa, a public relations manager at Sony, says that while the research has been around for generating power in this way, demonstrating it is rare. Indeed, Sony has been working on their bio battery for years.
Sony states, "Because glucose is a clean energy source---produced by plants through photosynthesis (a process that involves the absorption of CO2)---Bio Battery is also an eco-battery."
Erm...well... using a bunch of paper to get a small amount of power may not really be a stellar solution for environmentally friendly batteries. Very little power actually comes out of the process, at least with the technology we have so far. Still, it's an interesting experiment.
How The Bio Battery Works
"Shredded paper or pieces of corrugated board were used at the fair to provide cellulose, a long chain of glucose sugar found in the walls of green plants. Enzymes are used to break the chain and the resulting sugar is then processed by another group of enzymes in a process that provides hydrogen ions and electrons. The electrons travel through an outer circuit to generate electricity, while the hydrogen ions combine with oxygen from the air to create water," reports PhysOrg.
Paper In Our Batteries
While this isn't a great solution for our every day batteries, it could be useful for powering small, low-energy devices. In fact, we've heard of paper-based batteries before, back in 2009 when researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden were testing a prototype for a new battery made of salt and paper, which could one day be an environmentally benign replacement for lithium batteries in things like smart cards, RFID tags, and other low power portable devices. They may not be the source of the energy, such as what Sony is getting at, but they would hold a charge.
Sony, on the other hand, wants these batteries to be a major commercial product in the near future. The company states, "Sony will continue to work toward the commercialization of this technology in the near future, initially for use in toys and other low-power products. The longer-term goal for R&D in this area is to further enhance performance to ultimately develop batteries suitable for notebook computers and other mobile devices."