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Power Science

Human Blood For Electrical Power 369

burner writes "A Japanese research team has developed a fuel cell that runs on blood without using toxic substances, opening the way for use in artificial hearts and other organs. The biological fuel cell uses glucose with a non-toxic substance used to draw electrons from glucose. So where should I have my laptop power port installed?"
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Human Blood For Electrical Power

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  • 0.2 mW (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seigen ( 848087 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:29AM (#12534088) Homepage
    Its interesting, but unless you can use multiple cells or something there is not enough power to run any kind of pump. Afaik one of the major issues with any kind of artificial heart is it kills some of the cells as it pumps. Still this kind of technology is definitely interesting, and who knows what might be possible in the long term.
  • Dupe? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Escherial ( 806342 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:29AM (#12534091) Homepage
    Didn't slashdot report on this last year? Japanese researchers, check; using blood for energy, check...seems like a dupe, yeah.

    In any case, 0.2 milliwatts isn't exactly that much power: the AbiCor artificial heart documentation mentions that it consumes several watts from its external battery pack, a far cry from what this provides.

    Though, I can imagine a beowulf cluster of these. ;)
  • Re:Dupe? (Score:3, Informative)

    by IKnwThePiecesFt ( 693955 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:16AM (#12534235) Homepage
    I believe the article you're looking for is 4/2224201&tid=126&tid=14 [] . Very similar indeed...
  • Re:That's funny... (Score:5, Informative)

    by William Robinson ( 875390 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:49AM (#12534329)
    In a way, you are right!! Read this from TFA

    Since the electron mediator is based on Vitamin K3, which exists in human bodies, it excels in safety and could in the future generate power from blood as an implant-type fuel cell)

    Though a bit distant, it might become possible to *fabricate* parts of bodies(not alone heart), that can be *powered* when implanted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2005 @04:50AM (#12534449)
    bubblegum crisis.

    2 fembots powered by blood comes to earth in one episode of the OVA series. one of them is damaged so it cant replenish her blood by herself, so the other fembots rides the city in a heavy batle suit stealing blood for the partner.
  • Re:Human Blood? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jack Taylor ( 829836 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @05:07AM (#12534482)
    human != man

    When one talks about the "ascent of man", it does not apply to males only. This is one of the idiosyncrasies of the English language - apologies to all the feminists reading. I suppose we can try and use "mankind" instead, but that doesn't change the nature of the word...
  • Re:0.2 mW (Score:3, Informative)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @05:21AM (#12534501) Homepage
    But for pacemaker it should suffice I guess...
  • Re:Weight Loss? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Basje ( 26968 ) <> on Sunday May 15, 2005 @06:10AM (#12534582) Homepage
    This gizmo works on glucose, as do your brains. The fat in your body cannot supply glucose, so neither your brains, nor this fuel cell can run on the energy stored in fat. However, some proteins can be used as a glucose donor, esp those in muscle tissue.

    Thus, when using this fuel cell to lose weight, all you lose is your muscle tissue, not the fat tissue.
  • by masklinn ( 823351 ) <slashdot DOT org AT masklinn DOT net> on Sunday May 15, 2005 @06:14AM (#12534592)
    Actually, humans wouldn't have to sleep for the machines to use them for processing - large parts of neural systems were unused.
    No they aren't, that whole "humans only use 80% of their capacities" urban legend is bullshit, neural system structures are quite heavily specialized and although all of them aren't used 100% of the time there is no such thing as a "waste" in the neural system, nearly everything has a role, and what doesn't used to or may have one in the future.
  • by perrin ( 891 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @06:57AM (#12534682)
    I think it would have been cooler if the machines were using us as inexpensive processing units. What if, in the real world, you didn't actually have to sleep, and that 'sleep' is the machines using you to think?

    You should definitely read the 'Hyperion' books by Dan Simmons. Very good exploration of this concept.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2005 @07:32AM (#12534742)
    Uh. Just for the record, Ireland simply isn't a vast field of grass. It's got a very varied landscape including large fields of grass in places, but it's called "the emerald isle" because of (astonishingly) diverse and abundant plant life, not monotonous and abundant plant life.

    If you leave a tract of land alone for decades in Ireland, it typically reverts to lush forest interspersed with grassy clearings except in some mountainous areas (where it will become a peat bog) and coastal areas (where it will become wildflower meadow with fascinating "natural bonsai" dwarf trees). Some forested areas, if large enough, develop microclimates - i.e. Ireland might become a sort of "cold rainforest" if left to its own devices.

    Now, many poor Irish emigrants to the americas came from the west of Ireland, which indeed has
    emerald fields of grass, but other bits of Ireland look quite different [] (but still very, very green!)

    The Steppes (Russia/Ukraine) are where you want to go for vast plains of grass.

  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @12:51PM (#12536315) Homepage Journal
    When Morpheus said they believe the Matrix uses people as a power source for the machines, I thought "Lisa! In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!", but on their web site I found a more coherant explanation [], written by Neil Gaiman.

    Unfortunatly, they discarded the better writer's explanation and went ahead with their sillyness in the sequels. But you can still read the short story (it's on the first DVD, too).
  • Re:glucose monitor (Score:2, Informative)

    by richardmilhousnixon ( 515595 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @04:41PM (#12537700)
    It's very easy to make a device that just burns off glucose in the blood. Glucose powered devices are nothing new. In this case, the aspect that is important is the fact that it is made from bio-compatable materials . . . although I'm not entirely sure that just because your body uses vitamin K, it's okay to put a giant chunk of it in your artery.

    The main problem whith these types of devices is that anything placed inside the body slowly becomes coated with layers and layers of protein. This adversely affects the device performance, so while it may create .2 mW of power, after a week it will only produce a couple microwatts.
  • Re:glucose monitor (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2005 @06:42PM (#12538606)
    Completely wrong. Insulin is a signal to cells to metabolise sugar (for fuel). With no insulin, a diabetic cannot use the sugar in their bloodstream and their cells will be starved for energy.

    The high sugar levels do the long term damage to eyes etc, but if you are consuming the sugar with a fuel cell instead of the body's cells, you are not really helping the situation.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall