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Future smartphones could be powered by a technique that uses sugar

Posted: , by Alan F.

Future smartphones could be powered by a technique that uses sugar
Wouldn't it be sweet if you could use sugar to power up the battery in your smartphone? If your battery life is running low, a "spoonful of sugar" could keep your handset running for hours. The process currently being tested allows the sugar-powered cell to run as efficiently as today's regular batteries do. Obviously, this would provide cheaper power.

This is based on a discovery made four years ago by the geniuses at MIT A wire made of carbon nanotubes is lit on both ends, which is coated with a combustible material. Table sugar is used to heat the carbon nanotubes, which creates an electric current. Previous tests produced small amounts of electricity. Now, a Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT, Michael Strano, has increased the efficiency of the process more than a thousandfold. According to MIT, Strano's team has been able to create a device that produces the same amount of power "pound for pound" as today's best juicers.

Strano says that the improvement in efficiency takes the process from being a mere curiosity to a project that can be commercially exploited. The professor says that the technique is "within striking distance of other portable energy technologies," which include lithium-iron and fuel cells. He also adds that "it’s actually remarkable that this [phenomenon] hasn’t been studied before."

When the experiments first started, more explosive materials were used to create the necessary heat. But the team discovered that sucrose provided an efficient source of heat, resulting in the generation of the electric current. Other materials might be even more efficient. All that is required is heat to burn the wire.

"We can obtain phenomenal bursts of power, which is not possible from batteries. For instance, the thermopower wave systems can be used for powering long-distance transmission units in micro- and nano-telecommunication hubs."-Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh, professor of electrical and computer engineering, RMIT University

One great discovery is that the power source does not lose energy over time. In other words, the power devices can sit on a store shelf for an indefinite period of time without losing power. It also can scale down to very small sizes, giving manufacturers the room to add larger and more powerful components. Hopefully, this process gets more refined (no pun intended) over time and finds its way into the smartphone of the future.

source: MIT via BGR

26 Comments
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posted on 20 Mar 2016, 01:18 3

1. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


Sugar? Wow. Surely on one day too, cars will run on water!

No more gas!

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 03:34 4

8. Unordinary (Posts: 1162; Member since: 04 Nov 2015)


2053: Price of water/gallon - $12.99

Just like one city (I believe somewhere in the UK) wants to start taxing the %&$*%& SUN. For solar energy.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 05:27 5

13. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1111; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Taxing the sun?? That city needs Batman.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 05:48

14. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


Batman? A bat actually isn't sun-friendly.

Bats naturally fly and flex their wings at night.

You might want to find another analogy. :D

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 07:59 1

21. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1111; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


No, always Batman.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 07:36 2

19. TMHKR (Posts: 51; Member since: 08 Dec 2012)


A guy in Australia invented the engine that runs on water. Shortly after, he was arrested and placen in a mental institution.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 01:18

2. Mrinal (Posts: 36; Member since: 28 Feb 2016)


Lol!

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 01:25

3. rick_mobile (Posts: 216; Member since: 13 Dec 2010)


sucrose huh? The youtuber techrax should drop a phone with this battery into liquid oxygen and see if it survives :)

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 02:57

5. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


TechRax is one heck of a phone torturer.

adrianisen and JerryRigEverything along with GadgetHospital all do the same too. :D

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 04:24

12. ananthu07 (Posts: 90; Member since: 25 Oct 2015)


adrianisen mainy does speed test not all that many torture test except for some rare cases like Moto turbo 2

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 05:59

15. Adreno (banned) (Posts: 755; Member since: 12 Mar 2016)


"adrianisen mainly does speed test and not all that many torture test..."

I know that already. You're opinion is still welcomed, though.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 02:21 1

4. AppleVersusAndroid (unregistered)


Explosive materials and phenomenal bursts of power? Is it just me, but doesn't it seem like the sugar would burn out fairly quickly? I read the source material and it says, as I surmised, that you'd have to replace the sugar once it burns out. It just doesn't seem ... practical.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 03:36 3

9. GreenMan (Posts: 913; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


Yes AvA (Apple Versus Android!) MIT isn't what it used to be...

These are just bunch of lab dorks wasting funds on ridiculous projects...

I'm a bachelor of commerce, always hated chemistry and know nothing about it... And yet even an idiot like me can see that it's practically unviable and is just WORTHLESS...

MIT, huh? Monks In Tibet...

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 04:11 1

11. ibend (Posts: 3501; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


take a look for glow in the dark cat, or transparent fish, lol..
most of scientist need a real job -_-

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 03:13

6. Podrick (Posts: 450; Member since: 19 Aug 2015)


SmartPhones will get diabetes.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 03:28

7. GreenMan (Posts: 913; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


I want a Smartphone that comes with a Nuclear Reactor...

Now that ought to last a month or so, right?

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 04:09 6

10. ibend (Posts: 3501; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


1 kilogram Uranium 235 can Produce 22.5GWh..
so, one spoonfull should enough to power a smartphone for decades (plus radioactive leftover that can last for centuries as free bonus)

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 06:09

16. dimas (Posts: 1896; Member since: 22 Jul 2014)


A technology that will make energy consumption cheaper? I bet the business world won't like that.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 06:37

17. GreenMan (Posts: 913; Member since: 09 Nov 2015)


@dimas No, lad... I don't think battery manufacturers are like oil companies...

An advancement in battery technology mean more adaption, which is a good news for them...

The only thing stopping electric cars into mainstream is the limited mileage...

The business world gonna love it, mostly... Though Arabs and Russians won't be much pleased about it!

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 06:45

18. Bernoulli (Posts: 3735; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


All that this is doing is converting organic compounds into heat, co2 and h2o. Nothing but a mini-generator. Wood could also be used on this, as well as gasoline, kerosene, heck even diesel, now diesel would be ideal, since it burns way slower, also cooking oil could be used.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 07:52 1

20. Genza (Posts: 537; Member since: 12 Mar 2014)


I have seen something similar from Sony in 2007 i wonder when this kind of technology can be mass produced.

http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/200708/07-074E/

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 08:07 1

22. sam3k (Posts: 97; Member since: 02 May 2013)


Sweet!!

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 09:45

23. jonathonpower7 (Posts: 45; Member since: 09 Mar 2016)


And then phone will get diabetes. :)

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 10:02

24. Trakker (Posts: 283; Member since: 11 Feb 2016)


Mmmmmmmm... Lithium candy cells.

posted on 20 Mar 2016, 10:27

25. Jackdaw (Posts: 11; Member since: 10 Mar 2016)


Every year there is a breakthrough how this and that new technology will improve and double, triple battery life.

Most of them were supposed to "change the game" in the next 2 year.
Thing is those breakthroughs were announced 5-6 years ago....

posted on 21 Mar 2016, 14:13

26. JumpinJackROMFlash (Posts: 448; Member since: 10 Dec 2014)


"a "spoonful of sugar" could keep your handset running for hours"

Wow! Now I'll just have to carry a 2lb bag of sugar around to get through the day!

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