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Biofuel Snails Could Produce Electricity for Months

The energy crisis we are facing is an issue that must be tackled from multiple angles, because the necessity of powering devices large and small is here to stay. Around the world, companies and researchers are constantly on the search for new, efficient, clean, and renewable sources of energy to power our heavily consuming society. Luckily for our power-hungry society, innovative solutions are being found all around the world.

One such solution is that of the researchers from Clarkson University and Ben-Gurion University of Negev. Led by Professor Evgeny Katz, the team has proven successful in harnessing the metabolic power of a living creature to generate electricity. This particular example, published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, was to implant a biofuel cell into a snail to generate electricity.

Specifically, the glucose in the snail’s body was used to generate between “7.45and 0.16 microwatts” of power—the large range created by the fact that despite being able to run this biological battery for several months (a snail’s lifespan), after about 45 minutes, the amount of electricity produced dropped by a sharp 80 percent.

The end goal for such technology may not be able to power society anytime soon, but perhaps implanted medical technology could be powered in such a way as to be self-sufficient (no external battery needed), or allowing animal populations to be easier tracked with longer lasting devices that do not require large batteries.