IIT-Kharagpur Student Develops Paper Battery From Bacteria

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Kharagpur: A IIT Kharagpur research scholar has developed a disposable and flexible battery made from paper that could generate power from the bacteria present in sewage water, the premier institute said on Monday.

The novelty of the research by Ramya Veerubhotla, of the premier institute’s Department of Biotechnology, is that the device is made on a paper platform unlike other batteries, which are heavy. The battery is made using air cathode, and the anode can be prepared from any simple carbon based materials. The other novelty is the start-up time.

The uniqueness of her innovation is that the device is made on a paper platform unlike other batteries, which are heavy. The battery is made using air cathode, and the anode can be prepared from any simple carbon based material.

“Usually Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) take a couple of days to start power production as the bacteria needs to adjust to the environment. But for this device, the power production starts within 10 seconds,” said Ramya.

She said, “The power generated from one cell is in the range of a few microwatts. More cells mean more power. It may be difficult to power household devices with this, but it can power certain electronic components. The device is flexible and can be stacked together. For more power, you can make more units, stack them and fold them in a compact shape.”

This research presented by IIT Kharagpur’s ‘Team Electrodes’ at KPIT Sparkle 2018, has won the first prize and a cash award of Rs. 10 lakh while competing with 12000 students from across the country. The Platinum Award received by Ramya was decided on the basis of novelty, affordability and commercial viability of the proposed idea by an international panel of judges.

Ramya’s PhD supervisor, Professor Debabrata Das, an authority on MFCs, is confident that this invention would have tremendous use in bio-electric toilets. “One of the best advantages of the device is that it is 100% biodegradable and environment-friendly, which is not the case with chemical batteries,” he said.

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