New Edible Battery Offers a Safe Way to Power Medical Devices

New Edible Battery Offers a Safe Way to Power Medical Devices

Researchers are making strides in the development of medical devices that can be safely used inside the human body. However, powering these tiny devices remains a challenge. To address this issue, scientists have created a new type of rechargeable battery made from fully edible substances.

Features and Potential Uses of the Edible Battery

The prototype device, described in a new study, operates at a harmless 0.65 volts and provides a current of 48 microamperes for 12 minutes, which is sufficient to power small electronics. According to the senior author of the study, the battery’s future uses include “edible circuits and sensors that can monitor health conditions” and “powering sensors for monitoring food storage conditions.” Furthermore, due to the safety of the materials used in the battery, it could be employed in children’s toys where there is a risk of ingestion.

The components of the battery are diverse, and the vitamin riboflavin is used for the anode (the ‘negative’ end), while the supplement quercetin is used for the cathode (the ‘positive’ end). The electrolyte, which generates the electrical charge, is made of a water-based solution, and the separator, which prevents short circuits, is made of nori, the seaweed found in sushi restaurants. Activated charcoal is used to enhance electrical conductivity, while the contacts that transfer electricity to another device are made of beeswax and food-grade decorative gold.

Although the prototype is about a square centimeter in size, the researchers are already working on creating smaller versions that will be tested for powering “edible soft robots” and other future applications. The battery can be recharged outside the body and maintains its charge well over dozens of cycles.

Implications of the Edible Battery

The development of an edible battery has significant implications in medical and food safety industries. Medical devices powered by the battery could be used to monitor health conditions and make medical scans more comfortable. Food safety devices could be used to check the safety and quality of food inside the gut before the monitoring device is digested along with the food.

Furthermore, the researchers behind the prototype are hoping that their work will inspire other scientists to build safer batteries for a sustainable future. While the edible battery cannot power electric cars, it proves that safer batteries can be created using materials other than current Li-ion batteries.


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