A sheet of paper laden with bacterial culture suspension can help in powering healthcare device and biosensors.
The ever-growing problem of electronic garbage accumulation has intensified in the last few decades. Increased use of disposable electronic devices has made our lives more easy and comfortable, but dumping and improper disposal of the waste generated thereafter leads to environmental pollution. In such condition, development and applications of completely bio-degradable and chemical free batteries can help in extending the outreach of disposable electronic devices, without hampering the ecological balance of the environment.
Bacteria powered paper battery
Scientists from the Binghamton University, New York, have recently developed apapertronics based bio-battery, which can be powered by the cellular respiration of bacteria. These bacteria based paper battery are low cost and present an efficient alternative for powering electronic devices in remote regions, which are devoid of ample power resources.
How is it made?
Dr. Seokheun Choi, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, form the Binghamton University, used chromatography paper for the development of the bio-battery. A silver nitrate ribbon attached to the chromatography paper functioned as cathode while a conductive polymer reservoir attached on the other end of the paper functioned as anode.
A few drops of bacterial culture solution was added to the region between the anode and the cathode. The cellular respiration of the bacterial cells creates a potential difference between the two ends of the paper and generate electricity.
The output and the efficiency of the paper-based battery can be enhanced by adding suitable layers of “Proton Exchange Membranes” as well as by modifying the type of folding of the paper.
As of now, the power output of the battery is limited. The researchers working on the model said that 31.51 microwatts of power can be generated at 125.53 microamps, and practically it may take about a million of these batteries to light up a bulb. However, when we discuss about powering up delicate biosensors for glucose monitoring or detection of pathogenic bacteria, these papers based batteries are the ultimate answer.
Powering disposable and Point of care diagnostic devices
These batteries are self-sustained and can help in expanding the reach of point of care health care services to remote areas.
Wastewater as source of electrical power
According to a newly developed model, the microbes present in domestic and industrial waste water can be used to power these papers based bio-batteries. Changing the pattern and design of folding of the paper can enhance the output of the battery. Scientists found that a ninja star-shaped origami design can help the battery to power up an LED bulb for around 20 minutes.
The process of assembly of the prototype of the paper battery is manual and may sometimes involve misalignment of the paper layers or other components. The researchers are presently working on standardizing a robust and easily reproducible model and design to achieve maximized power output.
Fraiwan, A., Kwan, L., & Choi, S. (2016). A disposable power source in resource-limited environments: A paper-based biobattery generating electricity from wastewater. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 85, 190-197.
Gao, Y., & Choi, S. (2016). Stepping Toward Self‐Powered Papertronics: Integrating Biobatteries into a Single Sheet of Paper. Advanced Materials Technologies.