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216 comments

Sugar's nasty property #1: (3, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 7 years ago | (#18487863)

It's hygroscopic. Of course, if the batteries can deal with that, that's cool.

Re:Sugar's nasty property #1: (3, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 7 years ago | (#18487913)

I, for one, salute our new Aspartame-bearing sugar-free electronics overlords.

-- (reading what I typed. Dear god, just shoot me now.)

Re:Sugar's nasty property #1: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18487943)

I, for one, am very sick of this retarded meme overlord.

Re:Sugar's nasty property #1: (4, Funny)

AutopsyReport (856852) | about 7 years ago | (#18487975)

I, for one, am very sick of this retarded meme overlord.

I'm right here, you insensitive clod!

Re:Sugar's nasty property #1: (3, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 7 years ago | (#18488097)

Meme mashup:

1)In Soviet Russia, the naked and petrified Natalie Portman meme overloads your hot Meept! grits and posts Open Source Caveman Ogg first.
2)????
3) Profit

Re:Sugar's nasty property #1: (2, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | about 7 years ago | (#18488693)

I think for the enzymes to work properly, the sugar would need to be dissolved in water, anyway.

Jacked up. (2, Insightful)

crazyjeremy (857410) | about 7 years ago | (#18487869)

Sugar is sticky and it can jack up electronics. I don't think that's a good thing...

Not a bad thing either. (3, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#18487955)

Sugar is sticky and it can jack up electronics. I don't think that's a good thing...

Unless your blood is the nearest source of sugar.

Re:Jacked up. (3, Insightful)

beckerist (985855) | about 7 years ago | (#18487985)

Car batteries have extremely corrosive sulfuric acid. I think sticky is easily handled...

Re:Jacked up. (2, Insightful)

crazyjeremy (857410) | about 7 years ago | (#18488197)

Car batteries are sealed and doesn't get refilled often. This type of fuel cell would need to be refilled regularly, thus requiring the user to handle sugar substances. I doubt people on slashdot would ever spill stuff, but normal people might.

Re:Jacked up. (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#18488007)

and the stuff that's in a lot of batteries would be as bad or worse.

The trick is... Like normal batteries, they'd keep it in a sealed container!

Re:Jacked up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488027)

Of course it is. Just add that kind of circuitry to your notebook's keyboard, and it'll make good use of all that unwanted spillage. * * Unless of course the user in question drinks some Lite variant of the drink whilst visiting a funny website.

2.59/battery, anyone? (2, Insightful)

BinarySkies (920189) | about 7 years ago | (#18487873)

I recall some previous stories about better batteries than this that could be about the same amount of eco-friendliness. What's up with all the batteries lately? Automobiles could probably be the most worthwhile reason to invent all of these batteries, but that means that it's incredibly likely that the portable power market will become the next oil market.

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (4, Informative)

Shihar (153932) | about 7 years ago | (#18487973)

No, autos are the least interesting reason to invent new batteries. Automobiles need energy dense, quick to charge batteries far more then they need eco-friendly batteries. Don't get me wrong, environmentally friendly batteries would be nice, but that means starting over at square one with a new technology. It is far more likely that we will be able to squeeze enough out of an old technology by modifying it in some way to achieve what we need. The eco-friendly stuff will come after the roads are clogged with less-then-friendly battery powered cars.

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (4, Interesting)

DeePCedure (99267) | about 7 years ago | (#18488379)

Judging from TFA, I don't think charge times will be a huge issue. Just empty the battery's resevoir, refill it with fresh sugary goodnes and enzymes, then drive away. The spent fuel is biodegradeable so you can dump it in the sewer. Refueling would probably end up being infrastructurally similar to current oil-based fuel distribution in order to ensure reliable deliverey and the proper sugar/enzyme mix.

Even if the enzyme reaction takes a little time to get going and build up a proper charge, having multiple batteries running in an asynchronous parallel setup instead of serially should keep people moving. When battery A dies, the car switches to battery B and the "low fuel" light comes on. If you refuel battery A before battery B dies, you never have to worry about waiting for the chemical reaction to ramp up. And that doesn't even account for the possibility of "jump-start" catalysts that could accelerate the chemical reaction through the ramp-up phase before returning to it's normal electron producing rate.

However, nothing significant was mentioned in TFA about energy density, so that's still a concern.

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | about 7 years ago | (#18488701)

Theoretically, spent fuel is *drinkable*. As is the unspent fuel, if you don't mind insulin shock.

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 7 years ago | (#18488315)

Another reason there isn't a pressing need to replace the auto-battery is that it's already one of the most recycled [wikipedia.org] items. Since it's recycled about 97% of the time, other areas are better suited to improvements for the near term future.

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (2, Informative)

Fordiman (689627) | about 7 years ago | (#18488727)

True, but I for one am highly interested in an energy-dense, high discharge capable battery for cars. Something that can store a couple tens of kWh and let it go at a kW rate (stated in Watts, as I couldn't guess the voltage, and thus amperage resuired for such power outputs) in a package that's volumetrically similar to a regular sedan fuel tank (10-15 gal).

Re:2.59/battery, anyone? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | about 7 years ago | (#18488753)

Edit: hundreds of kWh, peak discharge of 125kW (135 Wheel HP at 80% system efficiency), nomninal discharge of 18kW (20 WHP at the same).

Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18487885)

Electronics + conductive sugar water, not a good combination.

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (2, Informative)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#18488129)

And electronics with corrosive/highly-conductive metal-ion/acid water are better?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, even with the -1 redundant it will incur.

SEALED CONTAINERS. Last I've checked, outside of a chem lab I've never seen an open-container battery.

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488245)

Have you ever seen a car battery? Only within the last few years have sealed car batteries become commonplace. Prior to that, there were lids that could be removed, to re-fill the battery with water. Even today, many dirt bike/4 wheeler batteries ship dry, you insert the water/acid mixture, close, and enjoy. These all have lids, but they are definitely not sealed.

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#18488493)

hmmm, so you are saying that the cap leaks in the battery? That if you hold the battery at the right angle, lid on, the liquid would come out (and/or the lid will come open on it's own?)

Just because you open them, doesn't mean they aren't sealed. Tupperware containers are a very good example of something that seals that you can open trivially.

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (1)

klubar (591384) | about 7 years ago | (#18488683)

Even the sealed batteries in today's car aren't really sealed... If you lightly pry the cap up, you can still refill them. The electronics in cars have gotten better so the batteries are less likely to be overchanged, and thus need refilling less frequently. Hopefully at the 15,000 mile check-up, the battery level is being checked.

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (1)

AP2k (991160) | about 7 years ago | (#18488313)

The rusting process creates a small voltage.

1) Make rust-powered car
2) Patent the hell out of the process
3) The obvious ????
4) Profit

Re:Sounds like a problem waiting to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488367)

RTFA. How is it any different than sticking a battery chock-full of ACID in your calculator?

Obvious: (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 7 years ago | (#18487893)

If you can do it with sugar, what about Caffeine?

I don't know about you, but I get a lot more out of Caffeine than sugar. ;-)

Re:Obvious: (2, Informative)

c_fel (927677) | about 7 years ago | (#18487977)

Caffeine is not a source of energy, it's a stimulant. It only helps the body to consume energy you already have in reserve. So you cannot build a caffeine battery.

Re:Obvious: (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#18488175)

Sure you could. It could be a two stage battery:

Take Mountain Dew + Human Being = sugar from mt dew + sugar/energy from human being ---sugar battery process---> energy!

I'm tired. Time to go get more caffeine!

Re:Obvious: (3, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | about 7 years ago | (#18488307)

So can we build a battery out of fat and give it caffeine to stimulate energy output? That would make for one disgusting battery. But we'd have a virtually unlimited natural resource!

Stupid. (5, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | about 7 years ago | (#18487895)

If people are bothering to create batteries run off food, why would they pick one of the least energy dense macronutrients?

At 9 kilocalories per gram to carbs' 4, fats kick the crap out of carbohydrates with regard to energy density. Strikes me as odd.

Re:Stupid. (2, Interesting)

OSU ChemE (974181) | about 7 years ago | (#18488119)

Since TFA was a bit light on the technical side (and I couldn't find anything on the ACS site yet) I'm just going to SWAG a few reasons:
  • The enzymes available (or that they developed) only work on sugar molecules; not to say they couldn't develop enzymes that work on fat
  • Sugar is water soluable and water can be made relatively conductive; fat, not so much on either count
  • Fat is has more energy/gram but fewer grams/volume, though 9:4 energy and 0.8/1.2 specific gravity means it's probably not an issue
  • More plants produce sugar than produce fat, and sugar is generally easier to extract from said plants than fat (even setting aside corn syrup)

Re:Stupid. (1)

dextromulous (627459) | about 7 years ago | (#18488137)

Hmm... I think I will go and see if there is already a patent on whale-oil batteries. If not, I'll just jump straight to step 3. Profit!

probably a matter of practicallity (4, Insightful)

puck01 (207782) | about 7 years ago | (#18488139)

Offhand, sugars are water soluable, relatively small molecules and probably easy to harness for their energy (the fuel mixture will readily mix to keep the remaining sugar moledules exposed to whatever catalyst and other molecules it is reacting with). Because they're simple molecules, there probably is only one major reaction required to split the sugars and obtain energy.

Fats are not water soluable, more complex chemically and thicker in general. I would think coming up with a stable reaction for the entire amount of fat in the tank would be difficult since they are not water soluable (you would need to mix them in a lipophilic solution) and they are thicker. I would imagine they would be more diffult to handle, especially if the idea is to make they reusable.

Then again, it been awhile since I've done any chemisty. Sounds like an interesting concept.

Way to go SLU (graduated from med school there)!

Re:Stupid. (1)

t0rkm3 (666910) | about 7 years ago | (#18488173)

Same reason that your body prefers sugar to protein and protein to fat... Ease of use. It takes less energy to get the process started.

Re:Stupid. (2, Funny)

vertinox (846076) | about 7 years ago | (#18488299)

fats kick the crap out of carbohydrates with regard to energy density

Creating machines that could "potentially" run off fuel made from dead humans might be a "potentially" bad thing.

Of course to be fair, you never have to run faster than the flesh eating machines... Just faster than anyone else you happen to be with.

Re:Stupid. (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | about 7 years ago | (#18488647)

Bump that. Let's just settle for second place and use alcohol at 7 to a gram. Beyond powering things you can also have other benefits.

Drinks during your flight pricey? Long meeting going nowhere? Stuck in the library at 3am on a Saturday? Just tap your batteries and you're good.

Re:Stupid. (1)

Radon360 (951529) | about 7 years ago | (#18488775)

I seem to recall that someone made a similar fuel cell not too long ago that used ethyl alcohol to do the same thing. It also used enzymes. The trick was attaching the enzymes to conductive rods to extract the electricity. They were able to get it to work with a variety of spirits, including vodka.

Adaptable to Hydrocarbons? (1)

Erioll (229536) | about 7 years ago | (#18488651)

Basically, hydrocarbons (petroleum, etc) are very sugar-like chains. Basically carbs, with less oxygen. So is this technology adaptable to that? Then you have the energy density problem completely solved (though losing the renewable aspect).

Re:Stupid. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#18488735)

I don't think so. I would expect that fats are a lot less efficient to make. Energy from plants is a lot more efficient to get than energy from animals. There aren't many plants that make fats, I think coconut is possibly the biggest exception. They may store energy more densely, but converting plant matter to animal matter is far less efficient than just using the plant matter.

I don't like the idea of using food for fuel or energy though. I'd much rather support cellulose to ethanol conversion because it generally wouldn't mean deciding between two very different needs, and cellulose is readily available and often just wasted in food production because it's in the parts of harvested of plants that are not food.

Skepticism (4, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | about 7 years ago | (#18487907)

The idea is neat and has been around for some time, but the article fails to answer some pretty basic questions. The most important question is if they can actually get these batteries to pump out enough juice to power anything of importance. They said that they got the battery to run a calculator, but calculators are EXTREMELY low powered devices. The fact that you can run a calculator with a tiny primitive solar strip gives you an idea of how little power some calculators actually need. When they get one of these batteries (even a large one) powering a MP3 player, I will be impressed. Until then, I am deeply skeptical that there is anything to this.

The other issue here is size. Even if they can pump out enough juice, they need the batteries to be small to be useful in most modern applications. The batteries for most electronic devices need to very small. There might be a niche market for this sort of thing, but I am very skeptical it is going to make any sort of splash in the consumer electronics field.

Interesting possibility: (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 7 years ago | (#18487967)

The most important question is if they can actually get these batteries to pump out enough juice to power anything of importance.

Making electricity out of sugar would be a first step towards limitless energy for implanted devices (the other steps would be making sure that the whole process doesn't kill the recipient). Many of those don't need a lot of power (for example pacemakers).

Re:Skepticism (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 7 years ago | (#18488451)

The idea is neat and has been around for some time, but the article fails to answer some pretty basic questions. The most important question is if they can actually get these batteries to pump out enough juice to power anything of importance. ...

The other issue here is size. ...
What about having a water cooler sized charge station in your home... dump in your sugars and plug in your cell phone/mp3 player/laptop to charge their current rechargeable batteries. You don't have to worry about power and size because the current rechargeable available take care of that.

Sure, it's not as good/eco-friendly as buying sugar based AAs from Walmart directly but it might make a decent interim solution that would help the tech move forward until it is small enough to just buy an "Engergizer S".

Better link (2, Informative)

Stile 65 (722451) | about 7 years ago | (#18487911)

There's better coverage of the story at Physorg [physorg.com] (via Engadget).

Question: If the fuel cell contains enzymes, couldn't a 2-stage fuel cell be created that has cellulases, thus making waste switchgrass/etc. a potential direct fuel? Why would we need to even bother with cellulosic ethanol then? Or is this even possible?

Re:Better link (4, Informative)

OSU ChemE (974181) | about 7 years ago | (#18488293)

The bad thing about using cellulosic materials directly is that they tend to resist being broken down into sugar while they are in their raw/natural state. They need to be pretreated, which usually involves some combination of grinding, heating, soaking, 'steam explosion' (quick pressure release), to obtain a reasonable yield of sugar. If you don't pretreat the feedstock, you won't get nearly as much sugar, and you battery will be bigger because you're only using X% of the initial material. And if you use pretreated material in your battery, why not just convert the cellulose to sugar outside the battery, wher you can better control the reaction conditions and yields? Plus, the enzymes needed to convert the cellulose to sugar and the sugar to electricity may need different reaction conditions, as enzymes are often picky about their pH, concentrations, temperatures, co-reactants, etc.

Awkward.. (3, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 7 years ago | (#18487937)

Their thinking: If sugar can jack up the human body, why not electronics?
A lot of things can "jack up" the human body, a limited amount of which I'd ever want to use as household power sources.

"Sorry mom, I'll have to call you back later, my battery's about to die. I promise I'll call back just as soon as I've shagged my phone.."

My thinking: (1, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#18487941)

How uneducated do you have to be to use the term "jack up" when describing power systems to a technically-literate audience?

Re:My thinking: (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18488479)

How uneducated do you have to be to write an article about alternative power storage technologies in which you write the following?

Like other fuel cells, the sugar battery contains enzymes that convert fuel -- in this case, sugar -- into electricity, leaving behind water as a main byproduct.

Like, uh, what other fuel cells [howstuffworks.com] are these that use enzymes again?

So sugar gets more expensive. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 7 years ago | (#18487959)

Just like corn.

There are some serious downsides to finding ways to use human food as fuel.

Re:So sugar gets more expensive. (5, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | about 7 years ago | (#18488427)

Just like corn. There are some serious downsides to finding ways to use human food as fuel.

Yes but you are missing the upside of this one. Unlike corn, sugar comes from a variety of sources, many of which are cheaply producable or directly obtainable from nature. For instance, the battery has been shown to use tree sap. You might say, well there's not enough tree sap, yes. But there's an abundance of sugar. Corn is one thing, not only must you grow the corn but you must break it down in a specific process for it to become fuel. This, essentially, means that you don't need to do that process. This is the ability to directly use some food products as fuel without additional conversion. Given how cheap food production has become, I'd say that's not bad.

Re:So sugar gets more expensive. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 7 years ago | (#18488491)

Some huge amount of farming is already an industrial process where petroleum is converted into food. The energy component in food prices isn't huge(when oil went from nearly free(~$10) to cheap(~$60), food prices didn't follow), but it is there.

The real problem is that it doesn't make economic sense to grow corn for ethanol unless you have a bunch of silly, contradictory regulation going on(ethanol tariffs, oxygenation requirements and farm subsidies). If taxpayers were not paying farmers extra money to make ethanol, there wouldn't be food supply issues.

Further research (2, Funny)

lawpoop (604919) | about 7 years ago | (#18487963)

" If sugar can jack up the human body, why not electronics?"

Next up, caffiene for your cell phone, and cocaine for your PDA!

Re:Further research (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 7 years ago | (#18488423)

Next up, caffiene for your cell phone, and cocaine for your PDA!


Crack for your Crackberry?

Nannobots, Finally !!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18487965)

Well, we getting so close to have real nanobots in our bodies.
One of the obstacles is how to power them.
The answer - make them absorb blood shugar!
The possibilities are endless.

On a lot less futuristic note, think of a pacemaker that you don't have to
recharge every so often.

Re:Nannobots, Finally !!! (1)

Profound (50789) | about 7 years ago | (#18488185)

Doesn't have to be nanobots. It would be cool to have little electronics that can run on your blood sugar.

Why exercise, when I could just plug a light into my body and burn off that excess carbs I had for lunch?

My clock runs off a potato. (3, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 7 years ago | (#18488025)

That's nothing - my clock runs off a potato. (e.g., http://www.unit5.org/christjs/Potato%20Battery.htm [unit5.org])

Sometimes I wonder if the Slashdot editors are really junior high school drop-outs...

Re:My clock runs off a potato. (2, Informative)

OSU ChemE (974181) | about 7 years ago | (#18488405)

The potato is providing none of the energy in that example. The galvanic potential [wikipedia.org] between the electrodes is what is producing the electricity. The potato is an electrolyte in (relatively) solid form. In the battery from the article the sugar is actually consumed to produce the electricity, whereas the potato isn't.

So not so much informative as misleading.

Re:My clock runs off a potato. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488507)

Indeed. TFA says it's a fuel cell, but nothing more. The GP either didn't RTFA (no, I'm not new here) or doesn't understand the difference between a fuel cell and a bettery. In his defense, TFA calls it a battery, too (a "fuel cell battery" for God's sake, can't slashdot get some less retarded FAs? Oops, sorry, this IS slashdot, news for retarded illiterate so-called nerds. My bad).

I tried to find some papers about this at the university's web site, but their search facility is kind of lame.

As to the GP, you get more wattage out of a lemon than a potato. But his post is still off-topic.

Obligatory Simpsons Reference: (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488033)

In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women...

What does 'jack up' mean in your country? (1)

jeevesbond (1066726) | about 7 years ago | (#18488083)

Their thinking: If sugar can jack up the human body, why not electronics?

Generally, when people in Britain talk about 'jacking up', they mean injecting Heroin. So is the next news story going to be:

Scientists Powering Batteries with Heroin, Cocaine
Their thinking: If class-a [google.com] drugs can jack up the human body, why not electronics?

When first reading that summary I seemed to be trapped in the movie Trainspotting. Meanwhile in other news: Pete Doherty's been spotted outside a local shop after buying all their batteries.

Re:What does 'jack up' mean in your country? (1)

Stanistani (808333) | about 7 years ago | (#18488443)

>Warning: this post may contain British humour. Please take this into account when replying.

Oh. *flips through old book* Okay...

"Jolly Good, Old Bean."

Blood powered (1)

perrin (891) | about 7 years ago | (#18488093)

Now, if only they can make it draw sugar from human blood and make the device and all its waste products fully biocompatible, they will revolutionize the parts of the medical industry that deal with electrically powered implants. Think artificial hearts, for example. Of course, lots of hurdles in that direction will remain.

Re:Blood powered (1)

Eccles (932) | about 7 years ago | (#18488527)

Now, if only they can make it draw sugar from human blood and make the device and all its waste products fully biocompatible, they will revolutionize the parts of the medical industry that deal with electrically powered implants.

Not to mention the weight loss industry. "Burn calories while contributing to Folding@Home!"

Re:Blood powered (1)

shadowcabbit (466253) | about 7 years ago | (#18488671)

Now, if only they can make it draw sugar from human blood and make the device and all its waste products fully biocompatible, they will revolutionize the parts of the medical industry that deal with electrically powered implants. Think artificial hearts, for example. Of course, lots of hurdles in that direction will remain.

Indeed. Building in the vulnerability to direct sunlight, crucifixes/holy symbols, and being staked through the heart might be the only real technical hurdles before we're all under assault by robotic vampires. I can't wait.

kiss of death (1)

wes33 (698200) | about 7 years ago | (#18488107)

Commercial versions could be ready in three to five years, the researchers say
enough said ...

I can see thousands of angry customers.... (3, Funny)

pesho (843750) | about 7 years ago | (#18488133)

...trying to charge their batteries with diet coke.

Taking that a step further... (3, Funny)

jense (978975) | about 7 years ago | (#18488135)

What happens when after a few years of sugar consumption our notebooks get diabetes? You thought the finger-prick was a pain...

OH MY GOD do you realize what this means for dogs (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 7 years ago | (#18488141)

Due to the necassary chemical reactions, now everyone will be able to blame their IPOD!!!!

What's the energy density of sugar? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 7 years ago | (#18488171)

I mean is this a viable alternative to hydrogen fuel cells and oil? Hydrogen has always bugged me since it's main source is from fossils, and requires kinda bulky storage. Being able to fill up with sugary syrup would solve both of these problems since sugar is easily produced in the form of sugar beet and cane it sounds like it could be produced viably and used a lot directly than bio-ethanol.

Hydrogen comes from water... (1)

tpjunkie (911544) | about 7 years ago | (#18488567)

Hydrogen's main source is water (seawater, ideally), not fossils, unless you're referring to the fact that hydocarbons store their energy in form of carbon-hydrogen bonds. But seeing as you mentioned bulky storage, probably not. Also, bio-ethanol (which is a bit redundant) is quite different from the "oil" you mentioned, which is bio-diesel. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hydrogen comes from water... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488709)

Most hydrogen is produced from natural gas. It can be produced by electrolysis of saltwater, but that's generally not done because it costs a lot in terms of energy. Even if you use a renewable source, it would make more sense to use that to produce domestic electricity and reduce the fossil fuel requirement in electricity generation.

Re:What's the energy density of sugar? (2, Interesting)

Radon360 (951529) | about 7 years ago | (#18488645)

Sucrose (not glucose or fructose), as a pure carbohydrate, has an energy content of 4 kilocalories per gram (or 17 kilojoules per gram)[Wikipedia]. 1 gram of hydrogen has about 140kJ of energy.

Whether, in fact, this is a fair comparison depends largely on the efficiencies of the devices extracting this energy, as well as the amount of energy put into producing each of the chemical products for consumption. While hydrogen is more energy dense, can we produce it more efficiently than refining sugar from plant sources?

Using electrolysis to produce hydrogen would require more energy than 140kJ/g, making it energy negative. Refining the sugar from plant sources would likely be somewhat energy positive. However, most hydrogen gas produced today is steam reformed from natural gas. I'm not certain where that would fall out if the natural gas were derived from biomass, instead of underground petroleum-related sources.

Sweet == Cute Chick && Sweet == Power (1)

uber_micro (1080269) | about 7 years ago | (#18488351)

maaaaah, Frankenstein's monster says, cute chick wife .... save ... planet .... maaaaaaaa

Sunny D! (1)

ruffnsc (895839) | about 7 years ago | (#18488373)

SOLAR ENERGY! Wow this means that Sunny D is really a form of energy.... or at least a liquid capacitor!

clinically obese cell phone (1)

flaming-opus (8186) | about 7 years ago | (#18488415)

My cell phone got into the HoHos again, and now I can't fit that fat MF into my pants pocket.

Give it some exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488449)

During off-peak minutes, dial into one of those poorly run "customer care" centers and let it sit on hold for a few hours at a time. That should work off those extra pounds.

Isn't this a fuel cell, not a battery? (3, Interesting)

Radon360 (951529) | about 7 years ago | (#18488421)

It seems to me that technology functions by putting a chemical (sugar) into the cell, and it produces electricity by breaking down the sugar. It isn't a directly reciprocating process like a lead-acid battery (i.e. you put electrical power back into it and it produces sugar). Its operation would seem to be more akin to that of a fuel cell than a battery, would it not?

Just what need, moody computing (2, Funny)

lawaetf1 (613291) | about 7 years ago | (#18488455)

If my laptop reacts to a sugar spike at all like my body does, it'll overclock itself for the morning, the hard drives will ramp up to the next RPM standard and then by afternoon the speed stepping on the CPU will drop to the lowest level, the drive will spin itself down at every possible chance and the screen brightness will be minimal.

I've long held the belief .... (1)

CFD339 (795926) | about 7 years ago | (#18488549)

...that where possible, taking a lesson from nature and evolution on how to most efficiently accomplish something is a likely best start. It won't always work, but as we get better and better at understanding biology we are likely to keep returning to the methods honed in competition over millions of years.

Re:I've long held the belief .... (1)

orclevegam (940336) | about 7 years ago | (#18488715)

This is interesting for the bio-tech field, but completely impractical for consumer electronics. The simple fact is, the human body, and consumer electronics have two very different needs in terms of energy. This is kind of like the NASA guys sitting around and saying, well, my car runs just fine on regular unleaded, why can't we just pump some of that into the shuttles tanks, it should work just as well. If they really really worked at it, they might even figure out a way to get the shuttle into orbit using regular unleaded, but the point is WHY! The liquid and solid fuels the shuttle uses are designed specificly for propelling the shuttle into orbit, and the unleaded fuels we put in our cars are designed to power our cars engines. I'm not saying that there arn't better fuel sources for either one, just that they arn't really interchangable. Just because one fuel source works well in one application, is no reason to try and use it in a completely different application.

Sugars are an ok source of energy for the human body, they're relativly easy to come by in nature, and we can break them down without to much effort, thus we evolved to use them, but relative to other chemical reactions, sugars are not very energy dense. Now, for powering things like nano-bots or for alternative energy sources for implants, this is very interesting. Perhaps even for use in building bio-electronics it's useful as well, but to power normal electronics using sugars is just plain stupid.

The scientist from the story (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 7 years ago | (#18488625)

The scientist from the story was last seen driving his DeLorean at 88 miles per hour while an WV beetle minivan driven by alleged Libyan terrorists was chasing him through a parking lot.

My thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488631)

If batteries can run important things such as computers and cell phones, why can't they run something as worthless as my body?

yeah, great logic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18488687)

...and if 20kV can jack up electronics, why not the human body?
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