Could our blood sugar serve as an energy source? According to scientific evidence, absolutely! By implanting a fuel cell beneath the epidermis, researchers from ETH Zurich have been able to produce electricity from the human body by converting blood sugar into energy.
By electricity production, scientists do not imply the capacity to operate residential air conditioning systems. In the study published in Advanced Materials, scientists demonstrated how excess blood sugar can be used to fuel medical devices, such as insulin pumps and possibly pacemakers, within the body.
In a press release, the study’s primary author, Martin Fussenegger, described how the majority of individuals consume more carbohydrates than protein “than they require for daily existence.
” As a result, “excess metabolic energy [can be used] to generate electricity for biomedical devices.”
How does this device function?
To this purpose, the researchers developed a copper nanoparticle-based fuel cell. The electrode is covered with a nonwoven fabric and coated with alginate, a substance derived from algae.
According to scientists, this fuel cell can be implanted beneath the epidermis, where the alginate can absorb bodily fluids and glucose can penetrate the fuel cell. Then, the fuel cell can be connected to a capsule containing artificial beta cells (man-made cells that produce insulin).
The fuel cell can produce electricity from glucose as it is assimilated. This energy is then sent to the capsule containing artificial beta cells, where insulin is produced and released into the bloodstream, effectively restoring normal blood sugar levels.
According to Fussenegger, “the novel system regulates insulin and blood glucose levels autonomously and may one day be used to treat diabetes.”
Scientists believe that the human body could generate enough electricity to enable these tools to communicate with external devices, such as a smartphone, in the future, making it easier to manage diseases such as diabetes. Mice have effectively tested the fuel cell.
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