Snail Batteries

Evgeny Katz, a chemistry professor at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, and his colleagues at Ben Gurion University have turned a snail into a living battery. The snail has been implanted with a battery, and its body’s blood sugar is what will “recharge” the battery. This is first time according to Live Science that researchers have been able to create sustainable electricity in a living creature’s body.

They implanted the snail with Buckypaper, which is thin sheets of nanotubes that are turned into electrodes to conduct electricity. The electrodes and “certain enzymes” combined with the snail’s blood glucose and oxygen in the snail’s hemolymph node to create electricity.

The snails are not harmed. They are able to move about and live their lives pretty much as normally as possible.  The only difference now is that one: there is a battery inside their bodies; two: they are captured for a short time each day to measure the electrical movements. When the snails rest and eat it recharges the battery.

Currently, the snails’ electrical output is less than that of one AAA battery; however, there is hope to boost this amount through new experiments. One of these experiments already being conducted is to try and use different substances in the snails and other small creatures.

One goal of the cyborg snail is to help power medical devices hopefully sometime soon in the future, said Katz.

Katz and his colleagues plan to attach the batteries on the outside of the creatures they are using in their next experiments. The goal is that snails or insects could carry recording devices on their backs, and send that information back wirelessly.

The full study was published at the Journal of the American Chemical Society.