Sweet Battery

I'm a big fan of green living and when noteworthy technology comes along that enables green principles to be adopted by the masses, I'm all for it. Such is the case today, when I read, via EcoGeek, about a fuel cell being developed by researchers at Saint Louis University that runs on sugary liquids (ah ha, the double meaning of the title is revealed!). The hook from the SLU press release:

Juicing up your cell phone or iPod may take on a whole new meaning in the future. Researchers at Saint Louis University have developed a fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source - from soft drinks to tree sap - and has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries, they say.

Now, I'm all for this kind of technology making it into mainstream commercial applications; my reservations come in when I see tree sap being listed as a potential source. I'm a big fan of real maple syrup and it already costs an arm and a leg. Should it be found that sap from the maple (especially the sugar maple, duh) is the best fuel source, I may have to hurt something, as the demand for these fuel cells would raise the price of syrup even more. So let's pull for soda, which we really shouldn't be drinking anyway, or some alternative source of sugar to be the front runner in the fuel cell's source, and not maple tree sap. Whatever the source, I am excited about these fuel cells. I wonder, though, at this sentence: "Like other fuel cells, the sugar battery contains enzymes that convert fuel - in this case, sugar - into electricity, leaving behind water as a main byproduct." At first, the reaction is, "Great, water is the by-product; who doesn't love that". I wonder what the other byproducts are though. Hopefully not a contaminant of some kind, as that would really mar the greenness of the fuel cell. I guess the wise thing to do is to watch carefully as this technology progresses and keep a foot on the ground when listening to the hype of any "100% green" technology.