Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York in the US have developed a textile battery that is powered by bacteria present in human sweat.

The research team, led by Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Engineering Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi, believe that their stretchable, twistable battery would be ideal for powering wearables electronics.

“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,” continued Choi.

The textile-biobattery is comprised of two components – a bioanode textile with a plastic coating, and a cathode textile that is loaded with silver oxide.

In a study that was published in Advanced Energy Materials, the researchers tested their invention repeatedly in stretching and twisting cycles and found that it maintained stable electricity-generating capability.

According to Choi, the microbial fuel cells are a suitable power source for wearable electronics because the whole microbial cells as a biocatalyst provide stable enzymatic reactions and a long lifetime. 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,” concluded Choi.

The researchers’ 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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