Source: Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology (Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia, or IIT) have succeeded in developing a new and very special battery – because it is not toxic like the very popular Ekline batteries that we (still) use to power various products around the house. This is a battery that you can disconnect from your device and throw straight into your mouth – because it is edible.
A little seaweed, a little almonds – and you have an edible battery
The development of the researchers at the Italian institute is apparently the first rechargeable edible battery ever produced, or so they claim in the article in which they published the development. The battery was developed by using materials that you can find at any supermarket (or make from the materials you bought at the supermarket). Among the materials from which the battery is made, you can find Quercetin – a pigment that can usually be found in almonds or capers that is used as the battery’s cathode and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) that is used as the battery’s anode.
In addition, the battery also includes a component that if you have had the chance to eat sushi at least once you are familiar with it – nori seaweed, which is used as the separating part inside the battery that prevents it from shorting out (short circuit). The researchers also used a water-based solution (NaHSO4) as the electrolyte – the electrical conductor inside the battery. To improve the conductivity of the battery the researchers also used activated carbon, which is a black powder that can also be used as black food coloring. They covered the electrodes of the battery with bee dung, and those electrodes connect to each other with a very thin foil of edible gold that is also used, among other things, to decorate pastries.
The interesting part of the battery, apart from the fact that it is edible of course, is the fact that this is not a disposable battery but one that can be recharged, which they have not been able to do until now. In the past, batteries were already developed from edible materials, but these were disposable and when they ran out you had to throw them in the trash or in your mouth. The new battery runs at 0.65 volts so it shouldn’t be a problem if you eat it, and in its current configuration it can run low power LEDs for a limited time.
“Considering the safety level of these batteries, they can be used to run children’s games, in which there is a fear that they will be swallowed (by the children),” said Mario Carrioni – a senior researcher at the Italian Institute of Technology and one of the researchers who signed the development of the new battery. It is important to note that The development of the new battery is still only in its proof of feasibility (POC) stage and there is still a way to go until it reaches – and if and when – children’s toys and will save us the fear that they will understand how to open the lid of the batteries.