Are you ready for saliva-activated electricity?

Researchers created a battery that is activated by a single drop of saliva. It uses microbial fuel cells to convert the movement made during oxidation into electrical energy.

Key Points

  • Your saliva can do more than help digest cupcakes.
  • It could help make energy.
  • Researchers created a bacteria-powered battery. 

You know that feeling you get right before you bite into a cupcake? As you smell the sweet vanilla and gaze at the fluffy frosting, you might even drool a little before it hits your lips. Well, it turns out all that saliva is good for more than just digesting baked goods. It can help make energy.

Researchers at Binghamton University and State University of New York, created a battery that is activated by a single drop of saliva. It uses microbial fuel cells to convert the movement made during oxidation into electrical energy. The battery is paper-based, so it's cheap to produce and very portable.

It doesn’t make very much energy – only a few microwatts per square centimeter - but it’s enough to light an LED. The researchers believe that when power from the grid isn’t available, it could be a good back-up power source for things like water quality monitors. It could also be used for point-of-care diagnostic biosensors.

Your saliva can’t exactly replace coal, natural gas or solar energy, but in our book, all advances in electricity generation are a win. The Binghamton team is working on ways to improve the battery’s power performance and if successful, you could be putting your saliva to good use soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll get ready by having another cupcake. Or two ...

To learn more, check out the full research paper in the journal Advanced Material Technologies

Did you like this article? Here are some other articles that include: saliva, alternative energy, LED, microwatt, Bingham University, SUNY

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