Washington, September 30 (ANI): If scientists have their way, then carbohydrates, the human body's preferred energy source, along with a weed killer, could someday power our gadgets, cars or homes.
Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) in the US have developed a fuel cell - basically a battery with a gas tank - that harvests electricity from glucose and other sugars known as carbohydrates.
"Carbohydrates are very energy rich," said BYU chemistry professor Gerald Watt. "What we needed was a catalyst that would extract the electrons from glucose and transfer them to an electrode," he added.
The surprising solution turned out to be a common weed killer.
The effectiveness of this cheap and abundant herbicide is a boon to carbohydrate-based fuel cells.
By contrast, hydrogen-based fuel cells like those developed by General Motors require costly platinum as a catalyst.
The next step for the BYU team is to ramp up the power through design improvements.
The study reported experiments that yielded a 29 percent conversion rate, or the transfer of 7 of the 24 available electrons per glucose molecule.
"We showed you can get a lot more out of glucose than other people have done before," said Dean Wheeler, lead faculty author of the paper and a chemical engineering professor in BYU's Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.
"Now, we're trying to get the power density higher so the technology will be more commercially attractive," he added. (ANI)