Biofuel cell-implanted snails can generate electricity

Researchers have for the first time implanted a biofuel battery in a living snail, which can produce electrical power.

Last Updated: Mar 18, 2012, 12:15 PM IST

Washington: Researchers have for the first time implanted a biofuel battery in a living snail, which can produce electrical power over a long period of time using the shelled creature’s physiologically produced glucose as a fuel.

The electrified snail, being a biotechnological living device, was able to regenerate glucose consumed by biocatalytic electrodes, upon appropriate feeding and relaxing, and then produce a new portion of electrical energy.

According to the study led by Evgeny Katz of Clarkson University, the snail with the implanted biofuel cell will be able to operate in a natural environment, producing sustainable electrical micropower for activating various bioelectronic devices.

Implantable biofuel cells have been suggested as sustainable micropower sources operating in living organisms, but such bioelectronic systems are still exotic and very challenging to design.

Research like this by Katz and other scientists is working toward a goal of creating insect cyborgs, an idea that has been funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Very few examples of abiotic and enzyme-based biofuel cells operating in living animals have been reported. Implantation of biocatalytic electrodes and extraction of electrical power from small living creatures is even more difficult and has not been achieved to date.

The study has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

ANI