In Italy, researchers create an edible battery: the ingredients

Researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology create an edible battery. A discovery that could revolutionize medicine and children’s toys.

Nori seaweed, which is one of the ingredients of sushi, is used as a separator on the edible battery invented at the Italian Institute of Technology. © amiraxgelcola / pixabay

  • In Italy, researchers create a small edible battery
  • All the elements that make up this battery are safe for health (including the algae used to make sushi)
  • This invention could have many uses in the medical field.

A battery that can be ingested without risk to health is the invention of a group of researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology. And while this may sound unusual, it is actually a huge discovery that paves the way for the use of electronic devices that patients can ingest, as part of a treatment. Indeed, for this to be possible one day, it is essential to have batteries that will not endanger the patient.

The results of this research, funded to the tune of 2 million euros by a grant from the European Research Council, were presented this month of April. And in a press release, the Italian Institute of Technology presents the ingredients of this edible battery.

For the anode, the researchers used riboflavin, vitamin B2 found, for example, in almonds. Quercetin, a dietary supplement found in capers, serves as the cathode. Conductivity is provided by activated carbon, and the electrolyte is water-based. To avoid short circuits, the researchers used nori, the seaweed used to make sushi. And the electrodes are encapsulated “in beeswax from which emerge two food gold contacts (the sheet used by pastry chefs) on a support derived from cellulose.”

A harmless current

The ITT assures that the 0.65V voltage of this battery is low enough that it poses no risk to the human body when swallowed. The battery can also provide a current of 48 μA for 12 minutes, or a few microamps for more than an hour, which is sufficient for small electronic devices.

And if for the moment, no use has yet been decided, the research coordinator Mario Caironi already has some leads. “Potential future uses range from edible circuits and sensors that can monitor health conditions to powering sensors to monitor food storage conditions,” he explains.

But on top of that, the safety of these edible batteries might also make them a better option for powering children’s toys. Caironi also indicates that his team is already working on the miniaturization of the battery so that it can have a higher capacity.

Ivan Ilic, the co-author of the study, believes that this work can inspire research in the field of batteries. “Building safer batteries, without using toxic materials, is a challenge we face as the demand for batteries soars. Although our edible batteries do not power electric cars, they are proof that batteries can be made from safer materials than current Li-ion batteries,” he said.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s