Sony Corp exhibited a Paper-powered Bio-Battery that generates electricity by using paper as fuel at Eco-Products 2011, a trade show focused on green technologies, in Tokyo. Though Sony showed a bio battery that uses glucose, etc to generate electricity at Eco-Products in the past, this is the first time that the company has announced the paper-powered bio battery. The performance was part of Sony’s drive to develop a sugar-based “bio battery” that turns glucose into power.

Working Principle of Paper-Powered Bio-Battery

Paper-Powered Bio Battery from SonyThe Paper-Powered Bio Battery uses an enzyme to decompose paper into glucose and uses the glucose for power generation. For the decomposition, Sony uses an enzyme called cellulase, which decomposes cellulose. When paper is soaked in a solution that contains the enzyme, it starts to decompose into glucose. When the solution, which also contains glucose at this point, is poured into the battery, power generation starts. Because cellulase functions as a catalyst, it can be collected for reuse.

“This is the same mechanism with which termites eat wood to get energy,” said Sony. Shredded paper or pieces of corrugated board were used at the demonstration to provide cellulose, a long chain of glucose sugar found in the walls of green plants. Enzymes are used to break the chain and the resulting sugar is then processed by another group of enzymes in a process that provides hydrogen ions and electrons. The electrons travel through an outer circuit to generate electricity, while the hydrogen ions combine with oxygen from the air to create water.

The Paper-Powered Bio Battery itself is not much different from the one announced before. However, Sony said, “We improved power generation capability. And the new bio battery operates even when there are impurities generated by decomposing paper other than glucose.”

In theory, the Paper-Powered Bio Battery can generate up to 18Wh of electricity (equivalent to the amount that can be generated by six AA batteries) with glucose obtained by decomposing a piece of A4-size paper, Sony said. However, the battery currently can generate a much lower amount of electricity. Sony did not disclose the details of the bio battery’s performance. But, in 2010, the company said that its glucose-powered bio battery could output 10mW/cm2.