by Mathew A. Dirjish

At a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society, scientists reported development of a device that could recharge cell phones, laptops, and other portable electronics using soda pop or even a dose of vegetable oil. The device may be the first biofuel cell that produces electricity with resources culled from common foodstuffs. For the new biofuel cell, the scientists chose the mitochondria, an organelle that transforms calories in food into chemical energy. Mitochondria use a chemical formed from the digestion of sugar and fats, called pyruvate, to make another substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which stores energy until needed. Mitochondria in a typical human produce and recycle an amount of ATP equal to the person’s body weight. This energy-producing system powered by sugar or fats opens the possibility of refueling a laptop or cell phone with vegetable fats or common oils. For more details, contact the American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. (800) 227-5558 or help@acs.org.