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Power Technology

Viruses Tapped To Create Spray-On Batteries 70

disco_tracy writes "Two different viruses have been used to create the cathode and anode for a lithium-ion battery. If research pans out, the parts could be grown in and harvested from tobacco plants and then woven into or sprayed onto clothing to power a wide range of electronic devices."
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Viruses Tapped To Create Spray-On Batteries

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  • by ascari ( 1400977 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:35PM (#33377050)
    Is that really such a good idea for the military? What if the enemy comes up with a vaccine?
  • Nah man (Score:5, Funny)

    by Peach Rings ( 1782482 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:36PM (#33377054) Homepage

    The only reason tobacco is illegal is cause back in the early 21st century the battery industry stepped in to prevent competition. They ran smear campaigns to try to make tobacco use look immoral and -fffffffff- unhealthy.

  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:38PM (#33377066)
    Maybe I'd just like to be able to run my laptop off my...POWER TIE...badump TSSS

    I'll be here all night!
    • There's always more money in finding efficient ways to kill people than to find efficient ways to make everyone's lives better.

      Luckily some of that stuff trickles down and we use it for the latter anyway.

    • I agree with your post title. I used to be one of those soldiers, too. And I never got to benefit from much of the tech that was 'for me' in the end --- come to find out much of the spending is just a cash handout to Gov contractors that reinvest part of it to political campaigns... who knew? lol.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

        I worked (briefly) in military research. Back then, they considered 20 years to be a good length of time from original idea to battlefield deployment. The problem was that this applied universally. For a new design of jet engine, it made sense - you need a lot of testing to even get to the prototype stage, and then mass production takes even longer. Unfortunately, for integrated circuits, it's insane. It means that you had state of the art mechanical systems controlled by a Z80. You get the next-gener

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          I can see why your work was brief.

          Off thr shefl solution almost never work under military conditions.
          They have a goal to fill. You fill it and it serves it's purpose. The fact that ti isn't the latest chip does not matter.

    • Why must every technology always be for soldiers? Because who else would pay $500 for a hi-tech toilet seat.

      And you should be glad of that. For instance, if it weren't for military [wikipedia.org] applications [wikipedia.org] civilian jet transport would have come much later than it did. The very first [wikipedia.org] jet plane designed primarily for civilian service was a failure suffering from severe design flaws.

      If you are going to spend a shitload of money on the military, at least let them iron out the flaws in new technology.

  • dangerous (Score:1, Troll)

    by LingNoi ( 1066278 )

    I could see this being better for the environment by the fact that the batteries are grown (?) however doesn't batteries woven into clothing come with a risk of spontaneous combustion?

    The article is very light on details. I'm wondering how they "spray" the batteries on...

    • Probably just spray a patch of anode and a patch of cathode somewhere else and run some wires. It might be useful for charging very low power devices like aimpoint sights.

    • You bet they're dangerous! Just wait until they hook up the Red Wire and the NeoVirus learns Kung Fu.
    • There's a lot more to worry about here - viruses that produce electronic components? That grow in crops? What happens if these things get out and infect other plants? What happens when (not if) they mutate?

      I hope this whole thing is thought all the way through before it goes to production. Although the chances are this is pretty much pie in the sky anyway.

  • by _avs_007 ( 459738 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:49PM (#33377138)
    I'm more excited about the 10 fold increase in capacity of this new silicon cathode than I am of the fact that it's sprayable, etc...
    • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:26PM (#33377330)

      The silicon-based lithium ion battery anode showed a nearly 10-fold increase in capacity over existing graphite anodes, said Culver.

      Capacity of what? So vague. Does this translate to batteries having 1000% of the present capabilities? Per what? cm2? oz? what kind of units are we talking here? Or are we just looking at the numbers game?

      • Doesn't say, can't find a paper. Like usual, horrible reporting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
        They can absorb up to 1000% more venture capitol before vanishing in an explosion that echoes away thusly "SUCKA.. sucka... sucka..."
  • No video? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dexter Herbivore ( 1322345 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:59PM (#33377190) Journal
    It's a pity that there's no video of the process... then it could go *viral*.
  • How many movies predict mass deaths from some virus gone rogue? I'm sure these viri are safe now, but later?
  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epp_b ( 944299 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:37PM (#33377384)
    Wow, what could possibly go wrong?
    • Re: Really? (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, what could possibly go wrong?

      From the article (if you were wondering): "The MIT and Maryland scientists used two viruses that are harmless to humans."

      • Are they harmless to other plants? Will they continue to be harmless when they mutate? Not to be Chicken Little here, but I hope they've thought this through.
  • Clothing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Clothing? CLOTHING?

    How about putting a whole bunch of them in a box. Then put this box in a car. Hook up electric motor in car to box.

    Maybe? Please? Fucking marketing dweebs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      Seriously? Flamebait?

      A ten-fold increase in efficiency, and all they can think of for applications is clothing? A ten-fold increase in automotive battery efficiency would push electric cars into the realm of "practical-for-everyday-use-and-beyond". A shirt that might hold a few phonecalls worth of juice, that might not even survive a wash cycle? C'mon people, what ever happened to priorities?

      Sounds like someone didn't like their article getting nit-picked.

      • Seriously? Flamebait?

        A ten-fold increase in efficiency, and all they can think of for applications is clothing?

        Lightweight power cells are something the military has wanted for a long time. The less weight a soldier has to carry, the better. And they mention powering UAVs with this technology as well; a civilian application can't be far behind.

        As for making an electric car practical, it needs to be affordable too. If this technology doesn't drop the price of an electric car, many people won't be able to afford one regardless of how practical it is.

      • A ten-fold increase in efficiency, and all they can think of for applications is clothing? A ten-fold increase in automotive battery efficiency would push electric cars into the realm of "practical-for-everyday-use-and-beyond".

        I don't think adding more range to electric cars is going to solve people's range anxiety. I was speaking with a guy who lives on a tiny island about electric cars, he said he wouldn't buy one, because what do you do if you run out of charge? Call a tow truck? I pointed out that he could drive across the entire island over 10 times on a single charge and that it would fully recharge overnight, so if he only sleeps at home once a week he'll still never run out of charge. But no, it's still too risky he says.

        • I think describing "making up pathetically unconvincing excuses because you don't want to alter your lifestyle by a fraction even hough it's self-evident it will be better for the environment in the long term" as "range anxiety" is to dignify it too much.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      how is that better then powering it with you pant's when you sit in the car?

      Seriously, it would imply that we are talking low power. Enough to charge a smart phone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Alright men, this is what you've trained for .... chaaarrrgeee!!

  • Laundry? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by locopuyo ( 1433631 ) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @12:36AM (#33377670) Homepage
    What happens when you do laundry?
  • Yeah, but that black mana isn't going to do them much good even after they've got spray-on batteries on the field. I'll just use my Greater Sony Instant and completely disrupt the combo.

  • Wow, I can just see how easy it would be to market a spray-on tobbacco battery. I mean it only has two historically epic "toxin" connotations to it (tobbacco and spraying chemicals on yourself) and just sounds horribly dangerous. Did anyone even study what happens when you constantly pass current through material that close to your nervous system like with these amazing new battery clothes? Why do I even want a battery that's thin and has a large surface area? I distinctly remember asking for a small, l
  • Flamers (Score:1, Funny)

    by neonv ( 803374 )
    Not only does the Dell computer burst into flames, BUT SO DOES THE USER!!! I know some politicians to send these clothes to ...
  • I want my batteries nicotine free to avoid supporting the tobacco lobby.

    • by davidla ( 875720 )

      And I want my nicotine battery-free to avoid supporting the battery lobby.

    • Hey what if these batteries became so popular that they caused tobacco supplies to dwindle? Cigarette prices would skyrocket ($20 per cell phone battery is acceptable, $7 per cigarette not so much), nicotine addicts would have to grow their own...maybe once the media gets a good view of how powerful nicotine addiction is, people would start to think about which drugs should and shouldn't be illegal.

  • Purity Problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Black Gold Alchemist ( 1747136 ) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:08AM (#33378310)
    This idea has an issue: purity. Lithium ion batteries require high purity, as far as I know, less than parts per million impurity content. With most lithium-ions, the case prevents the diffusion of crap (like water) into the battery. When the crud makes it through, the battery quits. With this system, there's no casing, and thus nothing to stop crap from getting in. I wonder how stable it will be with respect to soda spills, sweat, etc. on the clothing?

    Also, how are you going to wire up the battery? What decides which is the anode and which is the cathode?
  • Needs Beer (Score:5, Funny)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:13AM (#33378566)

    Batteries made of disease and tobacco?

    You only need to add alcohol to have a trifecta of sins. The power I imagine comes straight from the Devil?

    • Sure yeah they could make hybrid fuel cell batteries to take advantage of some alcohol too. And then they could be built by Siemens and put into Apple devices. The strange red glow coming from the battery could provide some cool case lighting. You'd just need to add some kind of transparent sound insulation to muffle the howls of the damned.

    • But where are the hookers and blackjack?

    • This is what will power the WereCar. which would make it " the most evil propulsion system ever conceived!"

  • by strack ( 1051390 )
    MIT have been spouting this virus based litihium battery bs for years. ill believe it when i can buy it in the shop.
  • I for one welcome our new overcharged virus overlords.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351