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Power Science

Kidney Cells Make Implantable Power Source 88

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the black-market-batteries dept.
Galactic_grub writes "New Scientist has an interesting round-up of patents related to green power technology. The ideas mentioned include an implantable power source made from stacks of kidney cells that could drive implanted devices like pacemakers, a chemical way to purifying hydrogen, a buckyball-based filter for methane fuel cells and an organism that turns grass cuttings (and other bio-waste) into ethanol."
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Kidney Cells Make Implantable Power Source

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  • by foobsr (693224) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:07PM (#21644865) Homepage Journal
    1. An apparatus comprising: at least one cell culture chamber wherein live neurons are maintained and grown; and a means for harnessing the thoughts and ideas generated by the live neurons, said means being connected with said neuron culture chamber.

    Recalling a time when a working example of the device to be patented had to be presented.

    CC.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      1. An apparatus comprising: at least one cell culture chamber wherein live neurons are maintained and grown; and a means for harnessing the thoughts and ideas generated by the live neurons, said means being connected with said neuron culture chamber, where said thoughts and ideas are used over the internet or in any electronical manner.
      • by Gravatron (716477)
        Patent to be rejected on the fact that there are no ideas or thoughts on the internet, just mp3's, ranting, and porn.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Especially one as dubiously useful as this.

      He suggests that such biobatteries might be ideal for powering devices inserted in the body, such as insulin pumps or pacemakers.

      So you're going to give up part of your kidney for a pacemaker or insulin pump? When they've already solved the rejection problems in far less invasive ways?

      Wake me up when these devices are on the shelf. I'll be dead, but by then they should still be able to revive me.

      Recalling a time when legislatore weren't for sale. When they start wr [slashdot.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Demolition (713476)
        So you're going to give up part of your kidney for a pacemaker or insulin pump? When they've already solved the rejection problems in far less invasive ways?

        I'm not sure what a host's body rejecting an implantable device has to do with biobatteries. As you've said, rejection of the device can be deterred in other ways. It's more likely that biobatteries are being developed so that an otherwise-functional implantable device won't have to be replaced several times over a host's lifetime just because its
        • by sm62704 (957197)
          I didn't see anything in the article to suggest that these would be permanent, either. And it seems that a technology that could convert the kinetic energy of the host's movement to electricity would be a better solution.

          I hope my eye implant (see sig) doesn't break before I die!
          • I refer you to the line in the article [newscientist.com] that states:

            "... if the monolayers are made from immortalised cell lines, the biobattery should live as long as the host."

            If the biobattery will live as long as the host does, then that sounds fairly permanent.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:11PM (#21644923)
    Green kidneys and stuffed to the eyeballs with grass mulch? No wonder this guy is sick and needs implants. He's lucky he's not dead yet.
  • Proper Ethanol (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Swordopolis (1159065) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:13PM (#21644959)
    The faster we switch ethanol production over to cellulose, the better. It would mean that we're not cannibalizing our food supply to make it, and the cost wouldn't be tied to the rising price of corn.

    Making our ethanol out of the leftover waste materials is probably the only way ethanol will ever take off in this country.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree. I find it obscene that turning "food" into fuel is subsidised when there are starving people in the world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Colin Smith (2679)
        It's subsidising food which cause there to be starving people in the world.

         
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836)

      The faster we switch ethanol production over to cellulose, the better.
      The US should switch to adipose for an almost limitless energy supply.
       
      • The US should switch to adipose for an almost limitless energy supply.

        I had this image of thousands of fat people on tread mills and exercise bikes with generators attached. Then I had an image of liposuction machines sucking fat out of people and sending it to machines to turn it into fuel. Then my imagination started getting weird.

      • by wattrlz (1162603)
        I find that obscene because it's basically turning, "food" into, "fuel" in a far less efficient manner than corn-derived ethanol.
        • by Vancorps (746090)
          Is it really that inefficient? They've already consumed the food. So it's already gone, why not get back a little something extra depending on how much that costs of course.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      It would mean that we're not cannibalizing our food supply to make it,

      If corn were the most efficient way to produce ethanol then it wouldn't matter. Say for instance that hemp were legal, and it was more efficient (actually it is more efficient INMN, but bear with me here. Substitute whatever crop is MOST efficient if you care to research, which I don't).

      The land now used for growing corn would be used for growing hemp. Whether that land is used for corn, hemp, or sawgrass it's land. It doesn't matter if t
      • The land now used for growing corn would be used for growing hemp. Whether that land is used for corn, hemp, or sawgrass it's land. It doesn't matter if the corn's turned to fuel or not grown at all, that's corn that's not going to feed any people or cattle.

        Incorrect assumption. Cellulose, in theory, can be grown on land unfit for corn or other food crops. It can also come from the waste products of other crops, like corn stalks and sawdust. Some of the grasses proposed for cellulose production have exce

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      Making our ethanol out of the leftover waste materials is probably the only way ethanol will ever take off in this country.
      Who needs ethanol when you can go directly to hydrogen, and not just from crops.
      Microbes churn out hydrogen at record rate [nsf.gov]
    • I wish ethanol would just go away.

      Its a hydrocarbon, just like gasoline. That means when you burn it, ethanol still puts carbon into the atmosphere. Even worse, ethanol production and distribution haven't even gotten off the ground yet and its already screwing up the economy. Corn prices are sky-high on speculation so the livestock end of agriculture has to feed their cattle, pigs, etc. other expensive grains. This is driving the price of meat and dairy up. Farmers are switching their crops over to

      • "Its a hydrocarbon, just like gasoline. That means when you burn it, ethanol still puts carbon into the atmosphere."

        But less so than gasoline (by about 20% if I remember correctly).

        "Corn prices are sky-high on speculation so the livestock end of agriculture has to feed their cattle, pigs, etc. other expensive grains."

        But imagine if we could start making ethanol out of the corn stalks. Or grass clippings. Or wood shavings. Or most other forms of organic leftovers. Cellulose is the key: normally it just g
      • by lachlan76 (770870)
        It puts carbon into the atmosphere, but the carbon was removed from the atmosphere when the feedstock was grown, so there are no net carbon dioxide emissions.
        • 1) When plants die naturally, a significant proportion of their carbon goes into terrestrial carbon sinks instead of the atmosphere. Burning plant material releases stored carbon directly into the atmosphere.

          2) As many on this board have already noted, the modern agricultural process produces a large amount of carbon so ethanol isn't going to be carbon neutral.

    • by gronofer (838299)
      This doesn't encourage sustainable agriculture. How much ethanol will it take to produce the extra industrial fertilizers that are needed if "leftover waste materials" aren't recycled back into the soil?
  • by blhack (921171) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:14PM (#21644977)

    an organism that turns grass cuttings (and other bio-waste) into ethanol."
    So they invented moonshine producing rednecks?
    • by Seakip18 (1106315)
      They actually have a Biowaste Generator plant near Neshoba County I think. The idea is that with all of the pine trees they are cutting down from commercial farms, they'll take the waste bark, etc., and use it in the generator. Not sure though, and I'm not gonna waste an hour looking for the reference.

      Wow a remark that is actually kinda On topic.
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      Moonshine is made of corn, not grass you dumb city slicker! Come out here to corn country and we'll show you some drinkin'! [slashdot.org] We used to have a festival here in Springfield called Lincolnfest, but the yuppies that ran things discontinued it when everybody started calling it "drinkin' fest")

      CHORUS
      Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, Make you want to holler hi-de-ho
      Burns your tummy, don'tcha know. Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug.

      Grape wine in a Mason jar, Homemade and brought to school
      By a friend o' mine after class. Me and him and

      • Moonshine is made of corn ...

        Commonly, but not necessarily.

        I've read (in the Foxfire Books) about prohibition-era moonshiners using store-bought granulated sugar.

        Any substance with a sweet percentage of sugar is subject to fermentation. I ain't never tried turnip whiskey, but hell, I don't see why it couldn't get a guy roaring drunk.

        As for grass clippings, they're no damn good at all, far as I know -- practically no sugar content whatever. Might as well feed horses on the clippings, milk the
  • Yeah but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by j.sanchez1 (1030764) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:14PM (#21644981)
    Do they run Linux?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by WillAffleckUW (858324)
      Do they run Linux?

      No, they're BSD. Biochemical Signal Determination.

      And you better hope they have no Open Sores.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        And you better hope they have no Open Sores.

        Hey, the girls I hang around with [slashdot.org] are clean! And some of them run Linux. And once I made a beowolf cluster of them when I needed some guy's ass kicked.

        It's dangerous mixing nerds, hookers, and alcohol. Things explode.

        -mcgrew
        • It's dangerous mixing nerds, hookers, and alcohol. Things explode.

          Well, sadly, they did recently ... as this story [nwsource.com] about a pig farmer shows ...
          • by sm62704 (957197)
            Meet my friend Mike [kuro5hin.org]. The link is to an old K5 story about a pig farmer (Mike), a nerd (me), a couple other rednecks, and explosives. No hookers in that one though.
  • by snl2587 (1177409) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:15PM (#21644985)
    will the technologies be developed in time? Or will the fuel crisis win out and send humanity to the brink of doom?

    Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion!
  • Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:15PM (#21644989) Journal
    One more reason for them to steal my kidneys if I ever go to Mexico.
  • Tag: coppertop (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ajlitt (19055) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:21PM (#21645103)
    Interesting, but this [lanl.gov] is worth far more badass points at the retirement community.
  • Matrix (Score:4, Funny)

    by coppro (1143801) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:31PM (#21645257)
    1. We are getting closer and closer to functional AI.
    2. Humans are a source of energy.
    3. I will enjoy watching you die, Mr. Anderson
    Wait... that's not how it was supposed to happen!
  • Matrix 4 (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Starring Keanu Reeves as the elite-hacker Kidneyo.
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:41PM (#21645359) Journal
    Just a note about the fullerene filters mentioned in the article, they do not filter methane they filter Methanol specifically they prevent Methanol from diffusing across the memebrane of the fuel cell thus decreasing the amount of Methanol that is wasted.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not about waste, but "short circuiting" the reaction. Each molecule that crosses the electrolyte will react without passing electrons through the circuit. Current electrolyte membranes are so porous to methanol that the circulating fuel is necessarily dilute - limiting potential output.
  • I immediately perked up at the thought of powering my ICE vehicles with alcohol made from grass clippings... only I live in the Southeast, and we didn't get squat for rainfall this year, so there weren't that many grass clippings. Global warming might mean less rainfall in this region for years, so I'm thinking this isn't going to work out.
    • by ricree (969643) on Monday December 10, 2007 @03:34PM (#21646081)
      Sure, but in areas like that you're going to see a lot better returns on solar power than areas with high rainfall will. In that respect, this sort of technology will be a complement to solar power. In other words, areas with lots of rain and cloud cover will have more available biomass for fuel, whereas areas without the rainfall will see much more output from solar generators. Ideally, it should balance out, although in actual practice it will certainly be more messy than that.
    • Given the tremendous amount of grass clippings likely needed to make enough ethanol to run a car (if we're talking about using the car on a regular basis), and the frequency at which grass clippings can be 'harvested', odds are that you'd be able to make enough to run your lawn mower(s), and the equipment to convert the grass clippings to ethanol (assuming you want to produce ethanol from grass clippings using no external energy sources), with little ethanol to spare.
  • by hal2814 (725639) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:58PM (#21645585)
    Duracell Green is people!
  • "Batteries is peeeeople!" Sush, Mr. Heston. That's old news. Time for soylent green snack cakes!
  • someone tell me that these will NOT be manufactured by Sony!

    Exploding cellphones are only funny on "Will it blend" and MythBusters.

    I have no way to describe what exploding implants would be like... but I can see a whole new level of airport security coming. The stunt with the shoes was .. well, odd. I don't know how the script will read for the terrorist who goes to the bathroom in first class and triggers his kidney?

    oh, and the really really bad sequel to 'Snakes on a Plane' is obviously on the way...
    • by sm62704 (957197)
      someone tell me that these will NOT be manufactured by Sony!
      Exploding cellphones are only funny on "Will it blend" and MythBusters


      Sony - the only company that installs rootkits on its exploding batteries!

      -mcgrew [slashdot.org]
  • wonder if they could power an aritifical liver? then you'd have a reason for going for another six-pack.
  • Prior art. [lorebrandcomics.com]
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday December 10, 2007 @03:31PM (#21646041) Homepage Journal
    These are all interesting and valuable technologies for extracting and using energy. But of course they all consume some of the energy they help produce and deliver. Making that delivery system less efficient in order to use it at all.

    But existing fuels have the same problem. Is there anywhere that shows how much energy is consumed by extracting petroleum from the ground, getting it to a ship or pipeline, refined into products, then across to where it's burned for power? How much gasoline is burned driving to a gas station to fill up? How about the energy required to build and maintain the infrastructure, or even explore for new fields? Some of these losses are small, but they all add up. How about for coal and natural gas?

    Once we know the "energy budget" of each kind of energy system, we can actually make sensible choices. Gasoline has some of the highest energy density of any fuel, but its pollution has extremely high energy costs to recover from. Maybe some of these other systems are better net propositions. Or maybe they just look good on TV, until you see all the costs that actually goes into using them.
    • Is there anywhere that shows how much energy is consumed by extracting petroleum from the ground, getting it to a ship or pipeline, refined into products, then across to where it's burned for power?

      Damned good questions. Sorry I don't have answers -- other than the obvious generalization, "We used up the cheap and easy oil, now we're going after the expensive oil".

      I do, however, recall reading somewhere on the web (sorry, can't find the link) that an estimated 70% of U.S. oil consumption goes to the
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I didn't even include in the energy budget the energy spent on war to keep those petrofuels flowing, which is a much smaller amount for the renewables that usually can be produced entirely inside the US. Which is an investment in the US that can be exported peacefully, rather than an investment in Arabs that requires perpetual global warfare.
  • I dunno what thought came to mind first... Mr. Fusion Or Soylent Green for cars.

    "Mr. Fusion is PEOPLE!!! you damn DIRTY APES!!"
  • Those 4 pick-of-the-crop patents are no dawn of a new era stuff.

    1. The kidney idea seems to be theoretical. As foobsr commented, not a working model.
    2. The hydrogen pump is an absorber, so it gets clogged unlike thin platinum tubes.
    3. Digesting in a bug soup is standard. One bug instead of many is no miracle.
    4. Buckyballs seem to do no more than plug holes. Would any small rigid molecule work.

    This seems to be university rubbish ideas. The patentees do not have to survive off their ideas, and probably are do
  • There are numerous jokes about soylent green here. Unfortunately, most people do not realize how true these comments are. The article is short on details, but the kidney cells in question are probably Human Embryonic Kidney Cells, which were extracted from an aborted human fetus in the 70s, and then modified so that they would reproduce forever (immortalized). These cells are common in research. What many do not realize is that the arguments amount embryonic cell lines have actually been going on for a
  • You gotta be kidneying me...
    Real, live Human Beans... Self-stocking power, self-stalking fart generators...
  • Two of the guys running SunEthanol (the Biofuel bug company mentioned in the article) are the owners of my company.

    Boss hits slashdot, fun.
  • If we combine this story with the load-balancing with your car story, we get...

    ...the power companies paying you to plug yourself in to the grid during peak usage hours! Now that's giving power to the people, baby!

To thine own self be true. (If not that, at least make some money.)

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