Textile battery powered by bacteria could be ideal for wearables

Scientists have developed a battery powered by bacteria and made entirely from textiles that could be ideal for providing energy to wearable devices.

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, said the textile-based biobatteries exhibit stable electricity-generating capabilit,y even when tested under repeated stretching and twisting cycles.

The device outputs a similar amount of power to a paper-based battery previously developed by the same team.

Professor Seokheun Choi, who led the team, said that this stretchable, twistable power device could establish a standardised platform for textile-based biobatteries and will be potentially integrated into wearable electronics in the future.

“There is a clear and pressing need for flexible and stretchable electronics that can be easily integrated with a wide range of surroundings to collect real-time information,” said Choi.

“Those electronics must perform reliably even while intimately used on substrates with complex and curvilinear shapes, like moving body parts or organs. We considered a flexible, stretchable, miniaturised biobattery as a truly useful energy technology because of their sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly capabilities.”

Compared to traditional batteries and other enzymatic fuel cells, microbial fuel cells can be the most suitable power source for wearable electronics because they act as a biocatalyst and provide stable enzymatic reactions and a long lifetime, said Choi.

Sweat generated from the human body can be a potential fuel to support bacterial viability, providing the long-term operation of the microbial fuel cells.

“If we consider that humans possess more bacterial cells than human cells in their bodies, the direct use of bacterial cells as a power resource interdependently with the human body is conceivable for wearable electronics,” said Choi.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Binghamton University Research Foundation and a Binghamton University ADL (Analytical and Diagnostics Laboratory) Small Grant.

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