A new battery prototype has emerged in Japan that turns waste material into electricity. Sony’s battery is paper-powered and still in the early stages of development, but it may be a new way to charge your cell phone if it is commercialized in the future. Maybe we’ll finally have a purpose for that stack of old grocery receipts.
The device was demonstrated at the Eco-Products exhibition this past December. The paper was dropped into a solution of water and enzymes, and after a good shake and a little wait, the battery was able to propel a little fan. The primary enzyme utilized is called cellulase. It turns the paper into a form of sugar called glucose, which can be used by other enzymes to form electrons and hydrogen ions.
The project builds on work in which fruit juice was used to produce electricity. White ants and termites use the same process for energy when they digest wood. The byproducts of the process are just water and an acid called gluconolactone.
Yuichi Tokita, a senior researcher at Sony’s Advanced Material Research Lab, suggested to BBC News that old greeting cards could also be used as fuel. The battery is currently powerful enough to run basic music players, but falls short in comparison to publicly-available battery technology. Nevertheless, Greenpeace still welcomes Sony’s forward-thinking in power generation because the absence of toxic chemicals in the design of this battery makes recycling it a more eco-friendly process as well.