How Sweet It Is: Fuel Cell Battery Runs on Sugar

How Sweet It Is: Fuel Cell Battery Runs on Sugar


This is certainly a sweet deal for portable electronics. Scientists in the U.S. have come up with a fuel cell battery that needs sugar as fuel—just sugar. Think of any food or drink that has sugar in it and you have a potential power source for these new batteries.

The process uses enzymes to zap the sugar, creating an electrical charge that powers the battery and produces nothing as waste except water. Further, the entire list of ingredients in the battery itself is biodegradable. So it’s sweet and green.

So far, the scientists, based at Saint Louis University, have used glucose, tree sap, and flat soda in their testing. Carbonated beverages seemed to impede the process. Actually, the best fuel tested to date has been plain old table sugar, dissolved in water. The overall results have been up to a fourfold increase in battery life.

So where would that put us? Could we use such batteries to power iPods and cell phones? Probably. What about laptops? Perhaps. At least those wouldn’t catch fire.