If anything belongs in the 'have you seen this' group, it's this project:
Researchers at Binghamton University have created a paper-based bacteria-powered battery. One drop of saliva can activate the device, which can generate enough electricity to power an LED light for around 20 minutes.
“The battery includes specialized bacterial cells, called exoelectrogens, which have the ability to harvest electrons externally to the outside electrode,” said Seokheun Choi, a professor for computer science at Binghamton University and coauthor of the study. “For the long-term storage, the bacterial cells are freeze-dried until use. This battery can even be used in challenging environmental conditions like desert areas. All you need is an organic matter to rehydrate and activate the freeze-dried cells.”
“This is all about a disposable, easy-to-use, and portable bio-battery that can generate power from bacterial metabolism,” said Choi. “This battery is ready to operate with human body fluids like saliva for on-demand power generation for other disposable low-power applications such as biosensors.”
The suggested applications are understandably human centric - pregnancy tests, HIV tests, glucose sensors and other medical devices. I'm equal parts intrigued about the possible applications for conservation (powering small sensors?) and cynical that this will just be a momentarily interesting story and nothing practical will actually come out of it for years yet (if ever).
Where to you fall on this spectrum? Do you see any practical applications for ultra cheap, saliva-powered paper batteries?