Tiny biobattery Runs on Bacteria

Last fall, Professor Seokheun “Sean” Choi from the Watson College (Binghamton University) and his Bioelectronics and Microsystems Laboratory published their research into an ingestible biobattery activated by the Ph factor of the human intestine. Now, he and PhD student Maryam Rezaie have taken what they learned and incorporated it into new ideas for use outside the body. A new study in the journal Small, which covers nanotechnology, shares the results from using spore-forming bacteria similar to the previous ingestible version to create a device that potentially would still work after 100 years.

The overall objective is to develop a microbial fuel cell that can be stored for a relatively long period without degradation of biocatalytic activity and also can be rapidly activated by absorbing moisture from the air,” said Choi, a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science.

We wanted to make these biobatteries for portable, storable and on-demand power generation capabilities,” Choi said. “The problem is, how can we provide the long-term storage of bacteria until used? And if that is possible, then how would you provide on-demand battery activation for rapid and easy power generation? And how would you improve the power?

The dime-sized fuel cell was sealed with a piece of Kapton tape, a material that can withstand temperatures from -500 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. When the tape was removed and moisture allowed in, the bacteria mixed with a chemical germinant that encouraged the microbes to produce spores. The energy from that reaction produced enough to power an LED, a digital thermometer or a small clock.

Heat activation of the bacterial spores cut the time to full power from 1 hour to 20 minutes, and increasing the humidity led to higher electrical output. After a week of storage at room temperature, there was only a 2% drop in power generation.

Source: https://www.binghamton.edu/

The First Small Modular Nuclear Reactor is Chinese

China is now home to the world’s first small modular nuclear reactor. The Huaneng Group Co.’s 200-megawatt unit 1 reactor at Shidao Bay provides power to the grid in Shandong province. The reactor can use nuclear energy for various functions including power generation. It can also be used in the mining sector, industrial parks and for high-end consumption industries. The plant uses helium instead of water to produce power. Its fourth-generation reactor shuts down passively in case of any problem. The small module reactors or SMRs, at 200 megawatts are nearly one-fifth the size of Hualong One, which happens to be China’s first homegrown reactor design.

SMRs should be less costly to build and operate, faster to implement and have shorter shutdown times during refuelling than traditional nuclear plants,” Jefferies analyst Bolor Enkhbaatar said.

The application of SMRs has the ability to drastically cut down the consumption of fossil fuel energy in China. This can further help in promoting energy conservation and carbon emission reduction.

A report by Bloomberg reveals that no country in the world is spending on a nuclear plant as much as China. The country is expected to invest $440 billion into new plants in the coming 10 years. China has reportedly built 51 nuclear power units with 19 under construction. It currently has the world’s third-largest park of nuclear reactors after the US and France and has invested in developing the nuclear energy sector.

Source: https://www.wionews.com/

Transparent and Flexible Battery for Power Generation and Storage at Once

DGIST research group in South Korea  developed single-layer graphene based multifunctional transparent devices  Various use of electronics and skin-attachable devices are expected with the development of transparent battery that can both generate and store power.The scientists in the Smart Textile Research Group developed film-type graphene based multifunctional transparent energy devices.

The team actively used ‘single-layered graphene film’ as electrodes in order to develop transparent devices. Due to its excellent electrical conductivity and light and thin characteristics, single-layered graphene  film is perfect for electronics that require batteries. By using high-molecule nano-mat that contains semisolid electrolyte, the research team succeeded in increasing transparency (maximum of 77.4%) to see landscape and letters clearly.

Furthermore, the researchers designed structure for electronic devices to be self-charging and storing by inserting energy storage panel inside the upper layer of power devices and energy conversion panel inside the lower panel. They even succeeded in manufacturing electronics with touch-sensing systems by adding a touch sensor right below the energy storage panel of the upper layer.

We decided to start this research because we were amazed by transparent smartphones appearing in movies. While there are still long ways to go for commercialization due to high production costs, we will do our best to advance this technology further as we made this success in the transparent energy storage field that has not had any visible research performances”, explains Changsoon Choi from the Smart Textile Research Group, and co-author of the paper published on the online edition of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

The findings were also conducted as a joint research with various organisations such as Yonsei University, Hanyang University, and the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH).

Source:  https://www.dgist.ac.kr/