A group of engineers has come up with a new development on stretchable fuel cells that will draw energy out of sweat and will be able to charge electronics such as Bluetooth radios and LEDs. These biofuel cells produce over ten times power per surface area compared to any available wearable biofuel cells. These devices could be utilized to charge up a wide range of wearable devices.
The epidermal biofuel cells are a huge breakthrough in this field, which has been toiling with producing devices that can be stretched enough and also provide ample power. Researchers from the University of California San Diego were successful in achieving this breakthrough owing to a blend of intelligent use of chemistry, electronic interfaces, and advanced materials. This allowed the researchers to construct an electronic foundation that can be stretched with help of lithography and by making use of screen-printing to create 3d carbon nanotube-based anode and cathode arrays.
These biofuel cells are armed with an enzyme that can oxidize the lactic acid found in human scent to produce current. This thus, turns the sweat into a power source.
Engineers reported these results in the June edition of Energy & Environmental Science journal. In the concerned paper, they elaborate on how they managed to connect the custom made circuit board to the biofuels cells and showed the device was capable to charge up a LED while a person wearing the device exercised on a standstill bike. The researchers made use of screen printing to drop layers of biofuel materials over the top of cathode and anode dots.