MIT's sugar-powered fuel cell to be used in medical implants, helps justify that second dessert

Posted by Rhuaridh Marr
June 14, 2012 11:35 PM |

"Another slice of cheesecake?" "I need it to power my neural implant."

Yes, science may have found a way to help you defend eating carbs. Engineers at MIT have developed a fuel cell that draws its power from glucose -- the same sugar that powers the cells in a human body, and one of the building blocks of dietary carbohydrates. The fuel cell is intended for use in highly efficient brain implants, which one day could enable paralyzed individuals to regain the use of their bodies.

Made in the same way as the silicon chips in modern electronics, the fuel cells use a platinum catalyst to create a small electric current, which is achieved by stripping the electrons from glucose molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain. The fluid contains a high rate of glucose, which is generally not used, and, as such, the power consumption of the fuel cell would likely have a minimal impact on the brain's normal function.

The technology is still years away from commercial availability. The engineers must first demonstrate that the fuel cell can work in a living animal, before any further testing can continue. The prospects, if they are successful, are exciting. Vindicating unnecessary extra carb-intake is just an added bonus.

The full article is available on the MIT website.

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