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Scientists Implant Biofuel Cells Into Rats 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-matrix dept.
RedmondChris writes "A team of scientists from Joseph Fourier University in France have successfully implanted biofuel cells into rats, generating 6.5 microwatts by harnessing the power of glucose. From the article: 'The device uses enzymes to harvest energy from glucose and oxygen found naturally in the body. Past attempts at using such a device in animals have failed because the enzymes have required acidic conditions or were inhibited by charged particles in the fluid surrounding cells. But Philippe Cinquin and his team from Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, overcame these obstacles by confining selected enzymes inside graphite discs that were placed into dialysis bags. Glucose and oxygen flowed into the device, but enzymes stayed in place and catalyzed the oxidation of glucose to generate electrical energy.'"

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Scientists Implant Biofuel Cells Into Rats

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  • ... Welcome our new cyborg rat overlords!
  • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdotNO@SPAMgaryolson.org> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:10PM (#32273666) Journal
    Except The Matrix is a The Maze full of rats.
  • The Matrix (Score:3, Funny)

    by zaydana (729943) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:10PM (#32273672)
    I guess its only a matter of time before we have big towers full of humans in glowy red fluid which generate electricity. And hovercrafts, lots of hovercrafts.
  • If the carbon tax [slashdot.org] passes, do we tax it based on the amount of carbon in the glucose, or what???

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I love how your first thought after reading about a new scientific breakthrough is "How can we tax this???"

      You should run for office in Massachusetts.
    • If the carbon tax [slashdot.org] passes, do we tax it based on the amount of carbon in the glucose, or what???

      This is why we need cap and trade, not a carbon tax. If I can produce energy that's carbon neutral, I'll get paid to be fat.

      • by rjch (544288) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @03:26AM (#32275802) Homepage

        This is why we need cap and trade, not a carbon tax. If I can produce energy that's carbon neutral, I'll get paid to be fat

        The problem with that is that generally speaking the fatter you are, the more you fart. Since there's carbon dioxide and quite frequently methane in the resulting... expulsion... you're contributing to global warming that way.

        • The problem with that is that generally speaking the fatter you are, the more you fart. Since there's carbon dioxide and quite frequently methane in the resulting... expulsion... you're contributing to global warming that way.

          wow: (with other words) so they could/should raise fastfood and snacktax?

          "If you eat unhealthy, you grow fatter and polute more by flatulence"

          Consumer reasons: "I didn't know it makes me fart more, the companies providing me this should carry the tax"

          Producer reasons: "We get flatulenc

  • by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:13PM (#32273714)
    Marty: Are you telling me that this sucker is nuclear?
    Doc Brown: No, no, no, no, no. This sucker's electrical. But I need a rat to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)

      I'm sure in 1985 you can get a rat in any corner drug store, but in 1953 they're a little hard to come by.

      (was it 1953? don't feel like looking it up)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rollgunner (630808)
      For 1.21 gigawatts, you're going to need a little over 200 trillion rats (at 6.5 milliwatts each)... I do not volunteer to do the wiring.
  • by MachDelta (704883) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:14PM (#32273728)

    Wow, a second metabolism for charging my cellphone/laptop/plug-in hybrid? Sounds great! I wonder approximately how many miles of range you could get out of a big mac? "Yeah I better supersize that sucker, i'm headed out of town this weekend!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      More likely an insulin pump and eventually an artificial heart.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        You are not thinking strait, those are practical medical applications.

        This things first real application in humans? A weight loss supplement for the fabulously wealthy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by MichaelSmith (789609)

          Coupled to internal LED safety lights? I hate bumping into naked people in dark alleys.

        • by jginspace (678908)
          I was thinking the same. Or the other side of the coin: an eat-as-much-as-you-like enabler. Gluttons can overdose on pizza then have enough glucose to give their netbook a full charge.
          • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:59AM (#32275384)

            That was my first thought. This could bring Americans back from the brink of fat jokes and into the forefront of human-powered portable devices -- while slimming us down at the same time. Think about that! No change in lifestyle or habits, but you're thinner AND you don't have to plug your cellphone in ever again!

            My second thought was "holy sweet shit I want a laser in my index finger"

            • I find the fact that you would have to actually plug in your cell phone to charge it a big turn off.

              Or turn on ;)
              • by Nadaka (224565)

                Just put it in vibrate mode, you wouldn't want to get interrupted, or maybe you would?

            • by mdielmann (514750)

              One of my first thoughts was the fantasy novel Demon Blade [webscription.net]. Magic is fueled by life energy, and you can get it from yourself, or your surroundings. Hence, wizards spent a lot of their free time eating and getting fat. Gotta be prepared...

    • This gives a whole new meaning to "feeling rundown," "recharge my batteries," and "pump me up."
  • Do this to politicians too, and make them finally serve a useful purpose?
  • i have to wonder what the effects on the host would be. sounds like a really complex way to generate power rath then just burning the fuel to produce steam etc.
    • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:15PM (#32274272) Homepage
      The major advantage is that it becomes a plausible source of power for implanted devices. Health monitoring devices but also storage, computer interfaces, pretty much anything you can imagine. This sort of technology makes cyborg implants much more plausible.
      • by Shikaku (1129753)

        This gives a whole new meaning and whole new way to burn fat. Just plug in the TV to yourself and watch those pounds melt away!

    • by GuruBuckaroo (833982) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:21PM (#32274314) Homepage
      Yeah, but how many watts can you get just by burning a pile of dead rats?
      • Maybe it's on $YourFavouriteBurgerRestarant web site under 'Nutritional information' - look for something marked up in 'calories'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fractoid (1076465)

      i have to wonder what the effects on the host would be. sounds like a really complex way to generate power rath then just burning the fuel to produce steam etc.

      Or getting them to turn a crank or walk on a treadmill... Just doing some exercise is the simplest, healthiest AND it helps your muscles turn into something that prospective partners would *want* to look at.

  • I wonder if they were the kids who poured gasoline in cat's asses and watched them run around until they stopped. You know, the cats ran out of gas.

    Now it's biofuels. You can take the scientist out of the kid but not the kid out of the scientist ... or something....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kreigaffe (765218)

      I'd be more worried about what the scientists were doing in kids in the first place, but that's just me

  • How soon can we hook them up to The Matrix?

    • we only need to do that if they become troublesome and don't stay in stasis

  • "Past attempts ... have failed because the enzymes have required acidic conditions"
    Maybe it would work with fatty acids. We could install permanent liposuction ports to our bellies and recharge our cell phones on the go.

  • ... we can attach the lasers to their heads.

  • by hrvatska (790627) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:32PM (#32273908)
    After reading TFA, I was left wondering if this technique could be used to generate enough power to eliminate or reduce the need to replace pacemaker batteries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pinkushun (1467193)

      The maximum power of the device was 6.5 microwatts, which approaches the 10 microwatts required by pacemakers.

      "I'm optimistic that we will get tens of milliwatts in future versions," he says.

      "Reading TFA", suuuure...

  • Diabetics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AMMalena (845995) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:33PM (#32273914) Homepage

    Anyone consider the possibility of a device that not only produces energy from the body, but also uses up glucose? A device that conceivably could both help eat up Glucose and POWER a MONITOR to help see how the diabetic is doing??

    I happen to be a highly insulin-resistant Type 2, and this was the first thing I thought of when I read this.

    • by marciot (598356) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:46PM (#32274044)

      I can totally see a hypoglycemic person frantically fumbling through his pockets to turn on enough electronic gadgets to burn up all the extra glucose before it's too late.

      "My netbook is going into power saving mode? NOOOOOO!"

      • Re:Diabetics (Score:5, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:55PM (#32274136)

        That should be hyperglycemic. Hypoglycemic means the blood sugar is too low.

        • Right, and if the electricity is being produced by the glucose (blood sugar) and it gets too low, then the device will go into power saving mode due to lack of enough energy.

          Here's your sign.

          • Ahh I see after reading through the thread a 4th time that you may be right. When I read the ggp, I read he was going through his pockets looking for some candy to keep the device one. But if he was going through hit pockets looking to turn on other devices to use up excess glucose, then that indeed would be hyperglycemia. My apologies.

          • by Sockatume (732728)

            Why would a hypoglycemic want to turn on their gadgets to "burn up all the extra glucose"? That would just exacerbate the problem. I think you've read the parent without reading the grandparent.

        • by marciot (598356)

          Correct. I meant hypoglycemic. My bad.

          • by marciot (598356)

            Correct. I meant hypoglycemic. My bad.

            Argh. I mean, I meant hyperglycemic. Darn it. I made the same mistake twice.

    • Anyone consider the possibility of a device that not only produces energy from the body, but also uses up glucose? A device that conceivably could both help eat up Glucose and POWER a MONITOR to help see how the diabetic is doing??

      Forget monitor, just a bio-fueled sensor that beams readings to an external display device (like your BlueTooth-enabled cellphone?). But: I think you need a good reason to implant any foreign object into the body. I can appreciate the urge if you're a diabetic that would benefit from regular blood-sugar monitoring. But if you're going to implant a sensor for that, why not a sensor that measures a much larger set of interesting blood levels? And at that point, it could be interesting for anyone that wants to

      • How about a device which directly filters bacteria out of the blood stream? Or a remotely controlled robot which can eat out the interior of an otherwise inoperable tumor?

      • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @03:13AM (#32275750)
        Yeah, it sounds nice on paper but that's 0.6 Essence and 8,000 Nuyen you're looking at, chummer. Sure, if you rely on DocWagon to save your hide that display might just give them the time to do so but if you catch a bullet you don't need a chunk of cyberware to tell you you're bleeding. Well, unless you're a chrome junkie with a pain editor, in which case the 0.6 Essence ain't an issue anymore.
      • To signal you things like: "now would be a good time to eat a potassium-rich food item", "you're just within the legal limit on your blood alcohol", etc. etc. etc. besides watch your glucose level. If application for diabetics drives this forward: good for you.

        "I see that you are eating pancakes. Click here to download full version of pancakes."
        "CONGRATULATION! YOU HAVE JUST WON 100.000 pancakes! CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE!"
        "You like pancakes? Meet girls who like pancakes tonight."
        * [TRUSTED DOWNLOAD] pancakes
        * pancakes.full.rar
        * pancakes [FULL VERSION]
        * pancakes [HIGH SPEED]

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @10:37PM (#32273954)

    Customer: Yes, I would like the biofuel cell package installed.
    Store Rep: No problem... how much were you looking for?
    Customer: I got one of those new holographic iGotta2HavIt's and about 15 pounds to lose....
    Store Rep: You want the BF2000.... now of course you will also need the battery pack installed which is this 12 inch long unit we shove...
    Customer: Does that come in black?
    Store Rep: Lot's of people ask that... yes we do.

  • "That's a really nice smart phone, man! But doesn't a screen that size really suck power"

    "Well, yeah, a bit, but it comes with a 20 rat-power charger. Fifteen minutes in the cage and it's good to go."

  • So we have gone now from putting a Tiger [versacreations.net]in your tank to putting Rats in your tank ? Whatever next ? Snakes on a plane ?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A team of scientists from Joseph Fourier University in France

    So, if these rats mutate into something horrible... would we call it a fourier transformation?

  • So I only need (3200 watts x 1,000,000uW) / 6.5uW = 492,307,693 rats to power my home!
    • by neorush (1103917)
      In fairness I get it, this is a great break through for low power devices if you could power them with sugar from your own blood. Very cool.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        And your username is 'neorush', which seems appropriate for someone commenting on a story about (a) powering electrical gadgets with mammals, and (b) doing so using a 'sugar rush'. :)
  • by Torodung (31985) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:13PM (#32274260) Journal

    Remember: You will not be able to change the batteries on your iRat. There are no serviceable parts inside.

    We'll be getting more of this magical product to market, as soon as Steve finishes playing his iPipe.

    If your kids go missing, don't worry, Think Furry (TM)

    --
    Toro

  • by Tibia1 (1615959) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @11:15PM (#32274266)
    rats undergo a series of scientific experiments through the ages. They'll be the first to get neural implants that highly increase cognitive function. They'll be the first to connect to the internet directly through the brain. Aliens might assume they are more intelligent than us on first glance. Sitting around reproducing, reaping the rewards of science while humans do all the gruntwork...

    They have been planning this from the beginning.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gmrath (751453)
      "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
    • It is common knowledge in the rest of the galaxy that humans are only the third smartest lifeforms on Earth. The fact that you still haven't figured that out is pretty belgium if you ask me. (Apologies to Mr. Adams)
    • They'll be the first to connect to the internet directly through the brain.

      They already have. Where do you think all those duplicate stories come from?

  • Combined with a form of fusion the machines had found all the energy they would ever need
  • Yeah, but how about the quality of the cell?
  • Hmmm.... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a... battery?

  • Or a "cure" for Diabetes 1 while powering your iPod like device etc..? If you could relieve the bloodstream of excess glucose in diabetics(I) w/o supplementing insulin(or much less), that's green energy, right? Not trying to be cold hearted; but -any- energy conversion that helps will be good sooner that later...
  • If one rat generates 6.5 microwatts, this current computer requires 650 watt psu, that is ~100 million rats to power my computer without a display...give or take other factors not-considered. Additionally, a single rat consumes lets say hypothetically 200 calories a day (I couldn't find a real number). That means I would need 20 billion calories to power my computer for a day off rats. If the average nuclear power plant produces roughly 1000 MW, and if that energy could be converted to calories to feed r

    • Oh forgot, to add to the perspective (however skewed), 1000 MW powers ~1.5 million 650 watt PSU's... I think. This whole analogy is ridiculous.

    • If one rat generates 6.5 microwatts, this current computer requires 650 watt psu, that is ~100 million rats

      Rats!!!

  • Great. Now future cars are going to be sold as having x rat-power, instead of x horse-power...
  • and we'll be charging our cellphones by plugging them to our....

    bellybutton.

    definitively, the bellybutton

    (there was a pun there, but i forgot what it was)

  • That the end of the hamster wheel [wikimedia.org] as we know it.
    Pity of all the effort, science and passion others [otherpower.com] put into it... So long to you, deep and hamster-wheel inspired phylosophy of life [buzzle.com]...
  • Dan "sheesh John you are a pig today, slow down" John "been a busy day, had to recharge my laptop and mobile phone of my Persocharger so now I am starving" Dan " heard Rachael got booked into a hospital because her glucose levels crashed when she forgot to take a mains cable on holiday for her vibrator" Both laugh
  • Figure out a way to build a device the releases the hormones and enzymes needed to trigger lipolysis into the blood stream and then burn the free fatty acids to make energy. The benefits would be immediate.

    1. 1. For starters fat has more calories than sugar i.e. more energy per unit mass.
    2. 2. Keeping LDLs and Triglycerides in the blood stream low, by burning them up would prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks.
    3. 3. Life expectancies would skyrocket.
    4. 4. You could get to your target weight by simply generati
  • for the 15.4 million rats in my basement. I can use them to power a 100 W light bulb.

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