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lunes, 12 de octubre de 2015

Phone batteries...of SUGAR!! ( Percival Zhang Interview)

We always are charging our mobile phones, and buying batteries...

But in the future, the sugar can be the solution.

BUSINESS MEN´S MAGAZINE has make an exclusive interview to Yi-Heng Percival Zhang, one of the lead author of this project.

(Para leer en español, click aquí)

Courtesy of Percival Zhang, with the sugar battery

Dr. Yi-Heng Percival Zhang is associate professor in the department of Biological Systems Engineering of Virginia Tech (USA). He received his Ph.D. of Chemical Engineering from Dartmouth College in 2002. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal papers and chapters, and received six patents plus more than 20 patents disclosures. He has the google scholar citation number of more than 6,000 and an H-index of 34. Five of the patent and disclosures have been licensed to four biofuels companies (i.e., Mascoma, BioMethodes/Optafuel, Gate Fuels, and Cell-Free Bioinnovations). He founded two startup companies – Gate Fuels and Cell-free Bioinnovations.

Business Men´s Magazine:  This week, the newspapers wrote about your last discovery, the sugar batteries.Your research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar and has an unmatched energy density, a development that could replace conventional batteries with ones that are cheaper, refillable, and biodegradable.Tell us about this,please.
Percival Zhang: The idea is to extract all energy stored in sugar and convert it to electricity in fuel cell. In this fuel cell, we use enzymes (protein) as catalysts instead of costly platinum used in regular fuel cells. Because sugar is a complicated chemical compound, one or a few enzymes cannot extract all energy out. We design a synthetic enzymatic pathway comprised of more than 10 enzymes to extract all energy out for the first time. As a result, this sugar-power fuel cell has an un-matched energy density, 100% safety, biodegradability, even carbon-neutral in the whole life cycle. Of course, adding sugar into a device is very fast. So it is regarded as a fast refillability.

BmM: Two years ago,we held a conference about the mobile phones story, from the first "authentic" portable phone , created by Martin Cooper.In this conference, we spoke about the lifetime of the phone´s batteries, and how this arent be develop both with the phones in time.Are you agree with this afirmattion? Do you think the mobile phones brands are research really a long lifetime battery, or isnt be good for their bussiness?

P.Z: I am not an expert in lithium ion battery. But the past 20 years teach us that 500-1000 recharging cycle is an achieved goal. It meet most needs because most of us change batteries and cell phone every two or three years). Longer recharging cycle is not so important. But increasing energy density of battery is important because battery will last longer. It is why our highest energy density battery will have a great opportunity.

BmM: How do you have the idea of this sugar battery?

P.Z: I used to work on sugar-to-hydrogen. It is straightforward for me to convert sugar to electricity because we can convert hydrogen and electricity easily. See our previous report about sugar hydrogen.

BmM: There are any phones brand or tech brand, interested in this battery? Any of this has contact to you about this?

P.Z: Until now I did not receive contact from them. Most big companies do everything slowly.

BmM: How much can be the battery, in a factory? This is a real option in the market?

P.Z: They will be very cheap but it will take sometimes. Why we predict its low cost because it is built based on cheap costs – catalysts (enzyme protein) and low cost fuel (sugar.)

BmM: This batteries, theoretically, are fireproof, non toxic, and can be recheargable like a printer cartridge.They must be, then, more safe than the actual batteries, that can explodes, flame...its this true?

P.Z: It is true. You can image human as a machine. Is it possible for human to explode or burn based on sugar, water and enzyme?

BmM: Will it be long before this batteries come to be "commercial purpose"?Do you think that a american brand like APPLE, or MICROSOFT can be the first brand in use that?

P.Z: I am not sure. It depends on their taste and judgment. At least Sony works on the similar project for long. Apple has filed a number of patents about traditional fuel cells for phones.

Thank for your answers, and we hope sincerely see this battery made real as soon as possible.
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Item Reviewed: Phone batteries...of SUGAR!! ( Percival Zhang Interview) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Hombre Moderno