How Sweet: Sugar-charged Laptop Batteries

The power sources in our laptops, cellphones, iPods, and other electronic devices may have a sweet future: rechargeable batteries that run on sugar. Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri are testing batteries that run on sugar and have the potential to last up to four times longer than lithium ion batteries, according to

Electrochemist Shelley Minteer, Ph.D., is heading up the project and notes that in addition to running on nearly any sugar source, the batteries are also biodegradable. "It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery thatis also cleaner for the environment," she said.

The batteries work in a similar fashion to living organisms by using enzymes to break down sugar into energy - in this case, electricity. Once the sugar supply is depleted, users simply add a new sugar source, like plant sap or sugar water, and the battery recharges.

Dr. Minteer expects that sugar-based batteries will first show up as portable cell phone battery rechargers, and later make their way into portable electronic devices replacing the potentially toxic batteries used today.

Should the testing and technology refinement continue to show improvement, sugar-based batteries could be ready for commercial use in the next three to five years.