September 28, 2022
Imagem película microbiana que produz energia através do suor

New microbial film produces constant electricity from sweat

Why bring energy storage devices with you if humans themselves can generate continuous electricity to charge devices? Yes, this is still a quandary of imagination and an incredible future. However, it is already possible to extract electricity from sweat today. There is a new biofilm that can extract clean energy from sweat.

When these innovations move from paper, from the lab, to everyday life, each person will have their own source of electricity. Amazing, isn’t it?

Sweat and Electricity: Human Power Bank

The use of renewable materials in the manufacture of clean energy collectors can further improve sustainability. Microorganisms can be produced in large quantities from renewable raw materials.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst show that microbial biofilm is a cohesive, flexible material that collects energy from evaporation and converts it into electricity. This biological film has the potential to revolutionize the electronics world of "wearable" devices, and the management of these gadgets. We talk about equipment, from personal medical sensors to the usual electronics of our daily lives.

A biofilm is a thin sheet of bacterial cells about the thickness of a sheet. It is produced naturally by a modified version of bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens. This microbe is known to produce electricity and was previously used in "microbial batteries" to power electrical appliances. But these batteries require G. sulfurreducens to be properly cared for and fed a constant diet.

In contrast, the new biochip, which can provide as much power as a similar-sized battery, runs continuously because it's dead. And because she is dead, there is no need to feed her.

It is more efficient. We have simplified the process of producing electricity, radically reducing the number of required operations. We grow the cells sustainably in a biofilm and then use this conglomerate of cells. This reduces power input, simplifies everything and expands potential applications.

Derek Lovely, professor of microbiology at UMass Amherst, explained.

Photo of biofilm that produces electricity from human sweat

Picture of biofilm left and right, the individual microbe that attaches itself to its neighbors through a series of what the research team calls "natural nanowires."

How does this system work with microbial film?

Geobacter sulfurreducens grows in colonies that resemble thin mats, and each individual microbe adheres to its neighbors through a series of what the research team calls "natural nanowires." These are the mats that the team collects and laser etches small circles.

He then presses them between the electrodes and finally seals them in a soft, sticky, breathable polymer that can be applied directly to the skin.

Because the surface of the skin is constantly wet from perspiration, the biofilm can "run" and convert the energy trapped in evaporation into enough energy to power small devices.

The limiting factor for usable electronics has always been the power source, the researchers say. The batteries are exhausted and need to be replaced or charged. They are also bulky, heavy, and cumbersome devices.

However, a small, thin, flexible and transparent bio-film that produces a continuous and constant supply of electricity and can be used as a patch applied directly to the skin, solves all of these problems.

The human body produces constant electricity

During the experiments, the biofilm patch applied to sweaty skin produced energy similar to that produced with saline and maintained its performance after 18 hours. Even non-sweating skin generates a large electrical output, which indicates that the continuous secretion of low-level moisture from the skin is sufficient to drive this hydroelectric output.

In laboratory tests, the device maintained a stable current output for more than 30 days. It can be a promising candidate for the continuous operation of portable electronic devices.

Our next step is to increase the size of our films to power more sophisticated electronic devices that can be worn on the skin. One goal is to operate entire electronic systems rather than individual devices.

Said Jun Yao, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UMass.

that it The investigation is developed by the Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS) at UMass Amherst, which brings together deep, interdisciplinary expertise from 29 departments to translate basic research into innovations that benefit human health and well-being.

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