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Scientists Implant Biofuel Cells Into Rats 164

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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  • 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.
  • 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 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 masterwit ( 1800118 ) * on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:29AM (#32274818) Journal

    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 rats, that means that a nuclear power plant could only feed enough rats to power 85,000 machines.

    That retarded example above, even if the efficiencies were improved and the calories needed per rat were reduced, tells me that that this is not a very efficient way to generate power. I'll stick to other methods for now...
    Disclaimer: Yes this is bad science, yes this is bad math, yes sig figs were ignored, yes technology can improve into the future, yes my sources are Google search results, rabble rabble rabble...

  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @12:49AM (#32274982) Journal

    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)

  • by Rollgunner ( 630808 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:03AM (#32275066)
    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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 20, 2010 @01:41AM (#32275316)

    No. Doctors would never, ever use them. Cardiologists make $thousands with each pacemaker change and update. On top of that, pacemakers have been known to fail, and people don't really want decades-old machinery in their body. It's a good thought, but implausible.

  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Thursday May 20, 2010 @02:23AM (#32275522) Journal

    I had heard that current rechargeable pacemakers aren't as popular as the non-rechargeable units because they're much bigger and bulkier than non-rechargeable units.

    If it's due to the size of the battery, this glucose fuel cell could eliminate the need for batteries entirely.

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