When someone says “battery,” the first thing that comes to your mind is a definite image, whether it’s a lithium-ion battery or AA battery. However, that could change pretty soon, thanks to the researcher team at Binghamton University, State University of New York. The team has developed a bacteria-powered, textile-based stretchable battery, which could one day lead to the development of wearable devices.
This fabric made stretchable battery was developed by a team lead by Professor Seokheun Choi, the same person who developed a paper-like microbial fuel cell designed to generate electricity when activated by saliva.
By “bacteria-powered,” it means that the battery could be powered by natural bodily secretions, such as sweat. The sweat produced from the human body could be used as a potential fuel to support bacterial activity, ensuring long-term operation of the microbial fuel cell.
For wearable electronics, these microbial fuel cells could be the most suitable power source. It’s because, as a biocatalyst, the microbial cells can provide stable enzymatic reactions, as well as a long lifetime.
“If we consider that humans possess more bacterial cells than human cells in their bodies, the direct use of bacterial cells as a power resource interdependently with the human body is conceivable for wearable electronics,” said Choi.
Their paper, titled, “Flexible and Stretchable Bio-batteries: Monolithic Integration of Membrane-Free Microbial Fuel Cells in a Single Textile Layer,” was published recently in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Binghamton University Research Foundation and a Binghamton University ADL (Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory) Small Grant.