updated 03:10 pm EDT, Thu August 23, 2007
Sony Sugar Battery
Sony today announced that it had developed a battery strong enough to power electronics solely through the chemical reactions of sugar, raising the possibility of truly ecologically friendly power sources. Based around the concept of a bio-cell, the device includes enzymes at nodes that break down glucose and separate the electrons to supply power while converting resulting hydrogen ions into water through exposure to air. Though still in the early stages, this allows the 50 milliwatts of energy per cell needed to power a flash-based Walkman music player, Sony says. The current example uses four attached cells.
The new method doesn't require sugar or other largely pure sources of glucose to work and has been demonstrated using off-the-shelf food, such as sports drinks, to supply the necessary power. This near-universal support would mean that any future batteries would be supplied by renewable resources such as sugar cane crops and other plants that naturally produce glucose, Sony added.
Development is still early for the battery, but the Japanese firm has already presented its findings to the American Chemical Society's annual meeting and hopes to refine the technique to the point where it can power larger hardware and potentially replace lithium-ion batteries or fuel cells.