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October 1, 2009

A Sweet Energy Source

A few months ago, I wrote about the potential of "pee power." A little weird, but, hey. It's not like we need it for anything else.

Another odd energy source caught my eye recently. "Sugar + Weed Killer = Potential Clean Energy Source." I was intrigued. I knew sugar was an energy source for living creatures. We break down sugars all the time, and gain energy from them. That's part of why little kids start bouncing off the wall when you give them a chocolate bar. They metabolize the sugar really quickly, giving them a huge energy spike.

Scientists at Brigham Young University saw the potential of sugars as an energy source outside of living things. The question was how to take the electrons in the glucose (sugar) and transfer them to the electrode. Another household item ended up being the answer. A common herbicide acts as a catalyst for the reaction. Currently, the prototype fuel cell takes 7 of 24 available electrons from glucose. The team hope to refine the process, so that it becomes commercially attractive. It's already doing better than some hydrogen fuel cells, which use expensive platinum as a catalyst. Neither sugar or weed killer is expensive or hard to find. This is a promising, unique approach to creating a feasible carbohydrate-based fuel cell.

Credit: Science Daily- Sugar + Weed Killer = Potential Clean Energy Source