Friday, March 2, 2012

A cockroach as a fuel cell???

A headline over at Discovery News made my mind boggle more than somewhat.

Cyborg Cockroach Turned into a Fuel Cell

A team at Case Western Reserve University led by Michelle Rasmussen and Daniel Scherson has tapped into the metabolic system of a cockroach to produce electricity. This isn't the first time anyone has tried building a cyborg bug of sorts. A University of Michigan team tried it using piezoelectric materials. What's interesting here is that Rasmussen's group used the insect's own body chemistry to produce electricity.

When a cockroach eats, it produces a sugar called trehalose, which is broken down by one set of enzymes in the cockroach's blood, called haemolymph. It takes several steps for different enzymes to finish breaking down and converting sugars for food, but in the last step, electrons are released.

By inserting a wire into the cockroach, the scientists were able to tap into the electrons and harness the electricity. The amount of power isn't huge, only about 50 to 60 microamperes per square centimeter at 0.2 volts. But it's a proof of principle that shows that an insect's own body could be used to power tiny devices, such as sensors and microphones into places that would be otherwise out of reach.

There's more at the link.

My initial reactions:

  1. If you think I'm going to accept cockroaches in my home/vehicle/whatever because they can power my appliances, you'd better think again!
  2. If the authorities try to use cockroaches as fuel cells to power surveillance equipment, it'll begin a whole new chapter in the War On (Some) Drugs, as criminals deploy Raid as a counter-surveillance technology! (Just goes to show - it won't be only police 'raids' you've got to worry about . . .)



Hillbilly said...

Too Matrix for me, bud.

Mikael said...

Talk about bugged.

And yeah my first thought on reading the title was "hey look, a step towards the matrix".

Will Brown said...

I can see the bug-powered-bug concept clearly enough; I'm having difficulty with the whole "steering the [bug of choice - in the current example a cockroach] to the location desired" challenge. I mean, seriously, how are you going to train a cockroach not to run away when the lights come on?

Seems more trouble than it's worth somehow.

trailbee said...

Alternative to algae?