Evgeny Katz, a professor of chemistry at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY and his team are at it again. You may remember Katz from his previous experiment wiring up snails to a grid.
In this method, the team inserts electrodes into the clam's flesh. Since a clam's main body cavity is basically just a big sac of blood, the electrodes can feed on the glucose present and power a small electric motor. "The challenge of the work with clams was in assembling individual cells in batteries," said Katz.
Turns out the clams make pretty decent batteries for being experimental cyborgs. Hooking three together charged a capacitor with almost 29 millijoules over an hour — granted, a 75-watt light bulb uses 75,000 millijoules in a single second, but it's a start, and nobody is expecting clam power to be the next big revolution in green energy. "We need to resolve some engineering problems — most electronic devices require more power than we can get from our implanted cells," Katz said.
Just like the snails, this experiment aims to employ low-level electrical generation from biological fuel cells to power next generation micro-espionage tools. Just imagine a whole beach teeming with these clams, each equipped with a tiny periscope to push up through the sand and watching for sea-invasions. The team's findings were recently published in Energy & Environmental Science. [LiveScience]
Image: Journal of Energy & Environmental Science/Clarkson University