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 Electric eels inspire bio-battery idea

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Date posted: 22/10/2008

The same cells electric eels use to shock predators and prey could be engineered to power implanted biomedical devices, say US researchers.

The researchers, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Yale University, have designed an electric cell based on the electric eel cells.

"We now understand how the natural electric eel cells work," says Dr David LaVan of NIST. "Now we can think about how we can use those cells to power medical devices."

So far, the reserarchers have bio-engineered living cells which function in the same way as the electric eel's, converting sugar into electricity. They are even 5% more efficient than those found in nature. The plan so far is to encase the cells in an implantable system, and attach that to a human bloodstream, so that sugar in the blood runs through the generator, whilst oxygen in the blood keeps the cells alive.

Its still a fairly far-fetched idea, but it is a plausible one, and each individual cell would produce an estimate 150 millivolts.

Basic prototypes could be developed within a couple of years, and an actual device could be implanted in as little as five years, if everything goes smoothly.

See the full Story via external site: www.abc.net.au

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