(photo credit: Creatas Images)
This article first appeared at NoCamels
Yes, you heard us right. Snails have been turned into cyborg power generators that can generate power for months.
led by Professor Evgeny Katz from Clarkson University, implanted tiny
biofuel cells into snails that can generate electrical power from
glucose and oxygen in the animal’s blood.
experiment was led by researchers from Clarkson University in Potsdam,
NY, in cooperation with Israeli colleagues at Ben-Gurion University.
The results of the study are described in detail in the latest online
edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society
the first time that researchers have been able to generate electricity
from a living creature’s body that can last several months.
biofuel cells are expected to operate in small creatures, such as
snails, worms and insects – providing sustainable electrical power for
various sensors and wireless transmitters,” Prof. Katz says.
this mean that cyborg snails may one day become an alternative energy
source? Actually, the electrodes that fit into the bodies of snails
don’t produce enough electricity to power larger devices. Nevertheless,
they might generate enough power for microcircuits and tiny sensors that
could record important data about the environment that a snail crawls
Snail’s food recharges the battery
and his colleagues implanted the snail with electrodes made of thin
sheets of carbon nanotubes called Buckypaper, which can conduct
electricity. Those electrodes, coupled with certain enzymes, create
electricity by using glucose sugar and oxygen circulating in the snail’s
Such a setup still allows the snails to wander around
freely, while “recharge” their batteries by building up glucose through
“Our snail was living for a few months with the implanted
electrodes, eating, drinking and moving,” Katz told InnovationNewsDaily
“The snail was immobilized only for a few minutes to make the
electrical measurements and then it was released again to move.”
amount of electricity created was still far below that of just one AAA
battery, but the researchers hope to boost the flow of electricity in
new experiments. They have also begun testing different substances in
the bodies of such small creatures that could power the battery.
researchers from Case Western Reserve University have recently created
cyborg cockroaches using the same concept. Cockroaches are certainly
quicker, and their faster metabolism also generates more electricity
than a snail’s does. But the advantage of snails is that they provide a
more stable output for months rather than weeks.Research backed by the US Department of Defense
research has attracted funding from the US Department of Defense,
which is interested in the potential of cyborg organisms of all sorts to
provide reconnaissance and environmental monitoring for military
purposes. The snails could basically serve as living sensors or
detectors for the US military and Homeland Security.
As a next
step, Katz’s team plans to hook the living batteries up to
microelectronic devices attached to the outside of the creatures’ shells
or exoskeletons. A cyborg snail or insect could carry video cameras or
gas sensors to collect information before beaming it to the home base
through wireless transmitters.
According to Prof. Katz, implanted
biofuel cells that run on glucose might also someday power new medical
devices inside the human body. In fact, researchers at the Joseph
Fourier University in Grenoble, France, are building biocompatible fuel
cells that may one day be implanted in humans so that our own blood
supply can power medical devices such as pacemakers. NoCamels- Israeli Innovation News