April 3, 2009
MIT researchers working on Virus powered Batteries
In a traditional battery, lithium ions flow between a negatively charged anode, usually graphite, and the positively charged cathode, usually cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate. Three years ago, an MIT team led by Belcher reported that it had engineered viruses that could build an anode by coating themselves with cobalt oxide and gold and self-assembling to form a nanowire. The “virus batteries” have the energy capacity and power performance similar to the rechargeable batteries. The prototype battery is a coin battery, but conceivably cell and larger batteries for powering cars could be made from this process. Right now, it can go at least 100 charges before performance tapers off, but that number will increase. The idea behind industrial bioengineering is that viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms are really microscopic chemical factories. They eat, and through the metabolic process, subsequently secrete things. Wine, cheese, beer and antibiotics are, in that light, really the waste product of selectively fed and bred microbes.
Microbes also work in dank environments, can be produced en masse and disposed of after a long work week.
The MIT scientists have claimed that they have blended nanotechnology and genetically engineered viruses to develop batteries could be used to power small cars and mobile devices.
Via [Science daily]