Sugar battery offers hope of green-powered gadgets within three years

Virginia Tech research means longer-lasting smartphones, tablets and consoles powered by sugar could be available soon.

Scientists in the US have developed a sugar-powered “biobattery” that they say stores 10 times more energy than the equivalent-size lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones.

According to the team at Virginia Tech university, the results of their work could be in use within three years – and recharging could be a matter simply of adding some more sugar.

“Sugar is a perfect energy-storage compound in nature,” said Y H Percival Zhang, professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech. “So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.”

Their “biobattery”, which releases energy from sugar instead of chemicals such as lithium, used in batteries found in today’s electronic gadgets, could replace conventional disposable or rechargeable batteries – and is cheaper, refillable, biodegradable and more environmentally friendly.

The new battery technology produces significantly more energy from the sugar fuel than ever before. It can also store “one order of magnitude” – 10 times – more energy than the lithium-ion batteries commonly used in portable electronics and electric cars, claim the researchers. That could greatly extend the battery life of smartphones, tablets, and electric cars.

The researchers reported their work in the latest issue of Nature Communications.

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