New human fuel cell powered by air, sugar

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Washington, May 26 (ANI): You can soon power your body, your mind, and your implants by the air you breathe and the food you eat-researchers have successfully implanted the first sugar-and-oxygen-powered biofuel cells in a living creature.

Scaled up, glucose-based biofuel cells could power implanted pacemakers and artificial kidneys, as well as other medical devices.

"This was the first time such a GBFC was successfully used in animals," Discovery News quoted Philippe Cinquin, a scientist at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, France, as saying.

A bio-compatible fuel cell powered by sugar and oxygen would be a huge benefit to the medical industry.

Small, surgically implanted batteries power today's internal devices.

While battery-operated devices do work, but they are large and when their energy runs out doctors have to surgically remove and replace them.

A biofuel implant would never need replacing-unless it broke - - and would take up less space inside a person's body.

As long as a person functioned the device would have a fuel source.

Other groups have tried to create similar devices in the past, but the harsh chemical and biological environment inside the body rendered them unworkable.

The new fuel cell created by the French scientists is the size of two small coins stuck together.

Both sides are made from graphite, but contain different enzymes to break apart oxygen from air and sugar from food.

When the enzymes cleave those molecules, they create a small electrical charge.

The whole fuel cell is wrapped in a clear plastic dialysis bag, which allows sugar and oxygen, dissolved in the fluid that bathes the fuel cells, to enter.

But then it imprisons the electricity-producing enzymes, a key feature that limited previous designs.

The French scientists say they're confident that within the next few years they can generate enough electricity to power more advanced devices, such as an artificial sphincter for patients who have a radical prostatectomy, or artificial kidneys for diabetics.

Apart from its small size, another advantage of a biofuel cell is its longevity, said the French scientists- an implanted biofuel cell would produce an electrical current as long as a person is ticking.

The study was published in PLoS One. (ANI)

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