A team of researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology recently revealed what is billed as the world’s first fully rechargeable edible battery. As detailed in an article by Advanced Materialsthe new device uses riboflavin (often found in shiitake mushrooms) as an anode, and quercetin (seen in capers) as cathode.
In accordance with Popsci, activated carbon amplified electrical conductivity together with a water-based electrolyte. He nori seaweedwhich is most often seen in sushi, served as a short-circuit prevention separator, while electrodes coated with Bee wax and food grade gold foil contacts also contributed to the design.
“Edible electronic devices will have important implications for monitoring and therapy of the gastrointestinal tract as well as for rapid quality control of food”, reads the abstract of the article.
The report adds that although recent research has demonstrated the feasibility of edible sensors and circuitry, “fully edible electronic devices have edible energy” and still “sources are required, of which there have been very few examples”.
Eating the batteries is a normal problem
About 3,500 Americans ingest batteries each year., according to the National Poison Center of the Capital. It’s apparently such a perennial problem that there’s even a specific hotline number to call in case of such an emergency (1-800-498-8666).
According to the team’s findings, their proof-of-concept battery was capable of producing 0.65 volts, which is low enough for the human body to handle. The ingestible could provide 48 μA of current for 12 minutes, or alternatively a few microamps for over an hour.
Such a power supply could provide enough power for small electronic devices such as pill-shaped edible modules and other gastrointestinal procedure alternatives.
In a statement, the coordinator of the researchers, Mario Caironi, explained that said product could help feed monitors for both human health conditions and food storage. In addition, given its security, more powerful iterations could be used in children’s toyswhere the risk of ingestion is greatest.