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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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  • by lahi ( 316099 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:32AM (#12534097)
    The ideal way to use this would IMO be to use it thought magnetic induction. That way, the device can be completely subcutaneous. It could be placed on several places in the body. To power a lower power device, you would simply place one or both hands on it (Like you naturally rest your wrists on a laptop) , or grab it, depending on the style of the device. For devices needing more power, induction zones could be placed on the rear upper thighs, simply requiring you to sit on the power receptor. I suppose the area would suffice to transfer a quite significant amount of power, of course depending on the size of your butt. As an added advantage it would provide built-in heating in the aforementioned places.

  • by spikesahead ( 111032 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:35AM (#12534107)
    If I recall correctly, I think Morpheus went on about how the human nervous system produced enough electricity to power a light bulb, and that the machines tapped into that energy to run themselves.

    Personally, though, 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? o.o
  • Weight Loss? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:36AM (#12534110) Homepage
    I know the poster was joking about the port... but such a concept is interesting, not for its laptop powering abilities... but for health and weight loss potential.

    Why go to the gym to work out and burn calories from when you can plug a small cord into your mid section that would enable the device to draw energy directly from your system... and when your blood was running low... fat stores would naturally be tapped.

    Result? Losing weight while reading /.
  • Nothing Better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SmegTheLight ( 521218 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:40AM (#12534126)
    Best news ever!

    Extra power for my laptop, AND a way to burn of those pesky extra calories from those twinkies !!

  • by Rangerk8 ( 140937 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:53AM (#12534168)
    Hypoglycemia would indeed be a concern. However, the possibilities are intriguing for Type 2 diabetics, who are usually insulin resistant and have way too much glucose in their blood. If a fuel cell can use up that extra glucose, they might actually be able to make a device that would monitor, record, and lower the blood glucose level to normal or thereabouts. Imagine, diabetics could actually wind up producing more power than they use...
  • Diabetics applaud. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogsBollocks ( 806307 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @02:57AM (#12534176)
    So if you suffer from Diabetes, too much Glucose in the blood stream not to worry.

    Now you can eat your cake and ice cream and this little gizmo will take that extra glucose in the blood stream and make power (albeit small amounts) for you.

    The major benefit of this would be to reduce the blood glucose levels without taking medication, the power generation would just be a cherry on top.
  • Re:Glucose Levels? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:03AM (#12534197)
    But great for hyperglycemics. Let your PDA control your sugar levels.

  • by EricTheMad ( 603880 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:03AM (#12534200)
    They used human body heat to fuel themselves. Go watch the movie again.

    He was making a joke. Go read the post again.
  • by CrazyDuke ( 529195 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:10AM (#12534219)
    At that low power, Wouldn't it be just about right for a small tracking device? Implant it in the body and it would be self powered. It could also be used for punishment and "interogation" by attaching the cell to the right pain nerves.

    I know this is scary, but how long until this is our "National ID Card."
  • by ashridah ( 72567 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:17AM (#12534239)
    The electrons don't just vanish.
    If they did, the energy released would probably turn us into miniature suns the moment we turned one of these on.

    It's more likely that the now unstable glucose molecules will break down into carbon dioxide and urea, consuming some oxygen in the process, much like it does when consumed by a normal cell. One presumes the spent potential from the electrons will result in the electrons returning to the blood stream.

    And yeah, pushing this too hard would probably fairly easily kill the user, (read, a laptop at 60-100Watts? i doubt it. maybe a trickle charger for the battery :) ).
    A well controlled system could easily result in an acceptable increase in energy consumption, which would result in weight loss, without actually exercising (also, not a good thing, since the muscles aren't going to develop, but the fat will be consumed, leaving the user with no way to keep warm). One presumes that anyone using a device like this would be on a strict high-glucose intake diet.

    of course, this is conjecture, i've only done basic biology and chemistry :)

  • Re:the question is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaEMoN128 ( 694605 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @03:31AM (#12534280)
    I was wrong, glucose levels in the blood are lowered by eating onions. Onions act kinda like insulin... it lowers blood sugar levels by helping the glucose get to the cells. I forgot where I just read that, but i googled for it and it was the first link. google for glucose onions if you wish to verify.
  • estimate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @05:58AM (#12534570)
    Let's see if I can make a rough estimate, while rounding every number in sight:
    - 5liter of blood
    - to pump, say 40mm Hg=500mm H2o of overpressure is needed(diff between upper and lower pressure). I recall numbers like 120 over 80 when they measure your blood pressure.
    - 50 beats per minute. if the heart is a big fist, say it pumps like 100ml per beat.
    so 5liter per minute.

    So say the heart pumps 5l blood per minute 50 cm higher up.
    0.5m*5kg*(10m/s2)/(50 seconds)=0.5W

    Now, when doing a big effort, i think beat volume can double(from memory), and speed can go *3(180), that'sa factor of 6. Blood pressure goes up a lot too, to 160Hg, but i don't know the difference between upper and lower pressure. Make that a factor 10 in all between hard work and rest.
    So the heart produces 0.5 to 5 W. About.

    Conclusion: at the moment, the idea of powering artificial hearts is just the /. editor mixing his own imagination with what is in the article.

    It be possible one day, I suppose.

    Well now I really wonder if that wild estimate was any good, or did it just hit a good number because the mistakes cancelled out... Anyone?
  • glucose monitor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bodrell ( 665409 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @07:37AM (#12534751) Journal
    I've got mod points today, but so far no one has said much of interest on this topic. The best use of this device would be monitors for blood sugar levels, to be transmitted to an insulin pump. Having an implanted glucose monitor would remove all the guesswork from insulin administration.

    Note: I'm not saying that the device would lower glucose levels by consuming glucose, but since it is powered by sugar, the current should be proportional to the amount of sugar. If blood sugar is high, the implant's signal is high, and the pump delivers more insulin. No real logic required. That's why it's such a good fit. And they say so in the article:

    The newly developed cell in the size of a tiny coin is able to generate 0,2 milliwatts of electricity, enough to power a device that measures blood sugar level and transmits data elsewhere, the group said.
  • Re:glucose monitor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @07:58AM (#12534808) Homepage
    I was wondering about doing it the other way round. What if it could scale up to something that could reduce the glucose levels in the blood? This would be a type of cure for diabetes - both monitoring the blood sugar levels and then reducing them when they get too high. Keeping the glucose level in the right band isn't a complete fix but it would prevent any collapse or coma.

    My first thought was shame hypoglycemics won't be able to use it, but then if it is only generating 0.2mw its hard to say just how much glucose it will use. Probably not much.
  • Weight loss? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nsayer ( 86181 ) < minus language> on Sunday May 15, 2005 @10:55AM (#12535598) Homepage
    I'm only half kidding with this.

    What if this power supply was connected to nothing but a resistor on a heat sink? Could this artificially raise my metabolic rate? Could simply removing glucose from the blood stream lead to weight loss?
  • Re:glucose monitor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday May 15, 2005 @11:36AM (#12535783) Homepage
    This may be the most salient point in this entire thread.... The Holy Grail(TM) of insulin therapy has to create a self regulating pump - a pseudopancreas, if you will (no in jokes about pancreatic psuedocysts, please). The insulin pumps themselves are coming along just fine. The big hang up has been long term, continuous and accurate measurement of blood glucose. Current in-line sensors have to be calibrated regularly, thus mitigating the usefulness of a completely hands off approach. Multiple and varied approaches have been tried with little real progress. This might be a new approach to the sensor problem. If so, look out stock options! Ah well, it will probably have some annoying side effect like hair loss or impotence. Or maybe using a cell phone would make you go into a diabetic coma. Now wait.... This could work....

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal