|Graphic by Luci Gutiérrez, Wall Street Journal|
The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Akst reports in the April 19th edition that scientists at Penn State and King Abdullah University have been able to power a very small fuel cell using human saliva as the fuel. It would be smaller than a dime, and probably even smaller when put into use as an implant in your mouth, like maybe glued onto your tooth.
This microbial fuel cell would use bacteria - again, from your mouth - and break it down into organic material. This releases enough usable electrons to create current from an anode to a cathode. There's not much of a current, a mere 1/1,000,000th of a watt, but it is enough for ultra low-power devices to operate.
I know at this time you are probably salivating over the opportunities to make electricity from your mouth. So what can we use this new energy technology for? Seriously, the first application is likely to be medical monitoring. For example, a low-power electoencephalograph on a chip could warn of an approaching epileptic seizure. Another option is to determine female ovulation, for which we know of several chemical changes that can be detected 5 days prior.
What do you think will be the next application?