Electric eels solving energy problems

This 2017 video is called Electric eel immobilized a huge crocodile.

By Maria Temming:

Electric eels provide a zap of inspiration for a new kind of power source

Battery-like devices mimic how a charge builds up in the animal’s cells

1:22pm, December 13, 2017

New power sources bear a shocking resemblance to the electricity-making organs inside electric eels.

These artificial electric eel organs are made up of water-based polymer mixes called hydrogels. Such soft, flexible battery-like devices, described online October 13 in Nature, could power soft robots or next-gen wearable and implantable tech.

“It’s a very smart approach” to building potentially biocompatible, environmentally friendly energy sources and “has a bright future for commercialization”, says Jian Xu, an engineer at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge not involved in the work.

This new type of power source is modeled after rows of cells called electrocytes in the electric organ that runs along an electric eel’s body. When an eel zaps its prey, positively charged potassium and sodium atoms inside and between these cells flow toward the eel’s head, making each electrocyte’s front end positive and tail end negative. This setup creates a voltage of about 150 millivolts across each cell. The voltages of these electrocytes add up, like a lineup of AAA batteries powering a flashlight, explains Michael Mayer, a biophysicist at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Collectively, an eel’s electrocytes can generate hundreds of volts.

In an effort to create a power source for future implantable technologies, a team of researchers developed an electric eel-inspired device that produced 110 volts from gels filled with water, called hydrogels. Their results show potential for a soft power source to draw on a biological system’s chemical energy: here.

2 thoughts on “Electric eels solving energy problems

  1. Pingback: How fungi grow, new research | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Electric eels, strongly electric new species discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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