First edible rechargeable battery created from food

First edible rechargeable battery created from food

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Italy have used food to create an edible, rechargeable battery for soft robotics and medical applications.

The team at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT-Italian Institute of Technology) has created a proof-of-concept battery cell that could be used in health diagnostics, food quality monitoring and edible soft robotics.

The battery cell operates at 0.65 V, a voltage low enough not to create problems in the human body when ingested. It can provide current of 48 μA for 12 minutes, or a few microamps for more than an hour, enough to supply power to small electronic devices, such as low-power LEDs, for a limited time.

While lemons and potatoes have been used as primary cells with metal electrodes, the IIT research group developed the battery using riboflavin (vitamin B2, found for example in almonds) as the anode and quercetin (a food supplement and ingredient, present in capers, among others) as the cathode.

Activated charcoal, a widespread over-the-counter medication, was used to increase electrical conductivity, while the electrolyte was water-based. The separator, needed in every battery to avoid short circuits, was made from nori seaweed, the kind found in sushi. Electrodes were encapsulated in beeswax from which two contacts made from food-grade gold foil used by pastry chefs on a cellulose derived support.

The work follows a €2m grant for a project called ELFO which explores edible electronics where one of the key challenges is an edible power source.

“Future potential uses range from edible circuits and sensors that can monitor health conditions to the powering of sensors for monitoring food storage conditions,” said research coordinator Mario Caironi at IIT. “Moreover, given the level of safety of these batteries, they could be used in children toys, where there is a high risk of ingestion. Actually, we are already developing devices with greater capacity and reducing the overall size. These developments will be tested in future also for powering edible soft robots”, pointed out the

“This edible battery is also very interesting for energy storage community. Building safer batteries, without usage of toxic materials, is a challenge we face as battery demand soars. While our edible batteries won’t power electric cars, they are a proof that batteries can be made from safer materials than current Li-ion batteries. We believe they will inspire other scientists to build safer batteries for truly sustainable future,” said Ivan Ilic, coauthor of the study.

The paper is at 10.1002/adma.202211400


If you enjoyed this article, you will like the following ones: don't miss them by subscribing to :    eeNews on Google News


Linked Articles