Researchers in Italy have made a rechargeable battery from edible materials like almonds and capers.
What’s the recipe?
The Milan-based researchers made the rechargeable prototype’s anode from riboflavin, a vitamin found in almonds. The cathode of the battery was made from quercetin, found in capers and is also sold as a food supplement.
The researchers, from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, mixed activated charcoal into the electrode materials to increase electrical conductivity.
Nori seaweed was used for the separator, while a mixture of sodium hydrogen sulphate and water made up the electrolyte. Two food-grade gold foil contacts were on a cellulose-derived support, and the device was covered in beeswax.
Previously, research has shown the feasibility of edible circuits and sensors, but there is more research needed into power sources.
The battery operated at 0.65V, and sustained a current of 48µA for 12 minutes.
When further developed, the device could be used for medical diagnostics and treatments, and food quality monitoring. Regular batteries like Li-ion types cannot be used in edible devices because of the toxic chemicals contained in them.
The research team states in their report that they drew inspiration from living organisms for their battery.
In a previous study, a different team of researchers made a non-rechargeable battery from melanin and manganese oxide. While the battery operated, manganese oxide decreased and the melanin oxidised. Unfortunately manganese oxide can only be consumed in very small amounts, so the battery’s charge is pretty limited.
Aside from the melanin battery’s charge having limitations, the fact that it is not rechargeable also mitigates its effectiveness.
As edible electronics is still a relatively new field, it’s not surprising that many designs are still in their infancy. But, with the potential uses in the medical and food safety fields, one day they could be life-saving.
Food for thought
Although Cyclops Electronics doesn’t have a huge stock of edible components, we do have a massive inventory of other hard-to-find and everyday electronic components. We can stock or source almost anything you want, staying ahead of other distributors out there. Contact Cyclops Electronics today at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +44 (0) 1904 415 415.
Disclaimer: this blog is purely for informational purposes, please do not eat batteries!