Textile- and paper-based bio-batteries powered by sweat and spit

Researchers at Binghamton University developed two types of bio-batteries that run on bodily fluids: a paper one that runs on saliva and a textile-based one that is activated by sweat.

The research started with Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi focusing on developing a micro-power sources for use in resource-limited regions to power point-of-care diagnostic biosensors. From this research, several paper-based batteries were developed.

The biosensors require only several tens of microwatt level power for several minutes to function, but commercial batteries and other sources of energy can be too expensive, not to mention causing environmental pollution.

To make a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative, the researchers developed a high-performance, paper-based, bacteria-powered bio-battery. The battery contains microbial fuel cells with inactive freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells that start producing power when saliva is added. The battery generates reliable energy with one drop of saliva. The supplied power can be used by the next-generation of disposable, paper-based point of care diagnostic platforms.

From the spit-powered bio-battery, the researchers developed another battery that works on bodily fluids: a textile-based one that works on sweat. The textile battery even generates power after being stretched and twisted. The battery is therefore especially suited for powering wearable electronics. Sweat from the human body serves a s a fuel to support bacterial viability, providing long-term operation of the microbial fuel cells, especially since humans possess more bacterial cells in their bodies than human cells.

Photos: Binghamton University