Yeast-powered fuel cell feeds on human blood

Yeast cells feeding on the glucose in human blood might one day power implants such as pacemakers. A living source of power that is able to regenerate itself would eliminate the need for regular operations to replace batteries.

Now that prospect is a step nearer. A team at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, has created tiny microbial fuel cells by encapsulating yeast cells in a flexible capsule. They went on to show the fuel cells can generate power from a drop of human blood plasma.

Such fuel cells would be especially useful for devices, such as intraspinal microelectrodes for treating paralysis, which need to be implanted in places where replacing a battery is tricky, says Mu Chiao, who co-authored the paper with Chin-Pang-Billy Siu, also at UBC.

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