Fuel Cell Prototype Uses Live Cockroach To Generate Electricity, Powering Remote Sensor & Transmitter

Helga Weber/CC BY 2.0
Strange New Friends.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve report successful insertion into the abdominal blood sinus of a female cockroach electrodes which make the roach generate useful electricity. According to the news release, "Maximum power density reached nearly 100 microwatts per square centimeter at 0.2 volts."

What's the fuel?
Natural electrolytes in La Cucaracha's blood, constantly being replenished across electrodes, serve as 'fuel' for the roach-erator. The electrolytes originate from what the roaches eat, of course

Next prototype step?
The researchers state they anticipate fully implanting a signal transmitter and a rechargeable battery capable of powering the sensor.

“It’s possible the system could be used intermittently,” Scherson said. “An insect equipped with a sensor could measure the amount of noxious gas in a room, broadcast the finding, shut down and recharge for an hour, then take a new measurement and broadcast again.”
I think they are selling themselves short. A typical Manhattan apartment hosts enough cockroaches - you could hook them up chain-gang style to a power inverter via tiny wire - to run a Verizon server farm.

A factory farm even PETA would approve of.
Feeding the roaches in shifts with sweepings from the neighborhood falafel joint would make it sustainable, would it not?

There is, I guess, the possibility of some nut-job genetically modifying the roaches to up their electricity generating potential.
fennfoot/CC BY 2.0
Cyber-roach.

Crossing some ethical lines are just too shocking to contemplate. If New Yorkers can live in denial about a roach problem I can live in denial about the gruesome possibilities of GM roaches running iPhones.

Tags: Fuel Cells | Insects

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