From Discover Magazine: [HED: How to Turn a Cockroach into a Fuel Cell] | Discoblog

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Discoid cockroaches, used in this study, can be up to 3 inches long

From the digestive system that demolishes glue and toothpaste comes the first living, breathing, and yes, digesting cyborg-insect-biofuel-cell. Researchers have created a fuel cell that needs only sugar from the cockroach’s hemolymph and oxygen from the air to make electric energy. As long as the cockroach keeps eating, the fuel cell keeps running.

LiveScience lays out how electrodes inserted into the cockroach’s abdomen hijack its biochemical machinery:

The fuel cell consists of two electrodes; at one electrode, two enzymes break down a sugar, trehalose, which the cockroach produces from its food. The first of the two enzymes, trehalase, breaks down the trehalose into glucose, then the second enzyme converts the glucose into another product and releases the electrons. The electrons travel to the second electrode, where another enzyme delivers the electrons to oxygen in the air. The byproduct is water.

The cockroaches are not much harmed by the electrodes. “In fact,” says lead author Michelle Rasmussen, “it is not unusual for the insect to right itself and walk or run away afterward,” which only further confirms our suspicion that cockroaches can resist anything. …

from Discover Magazine

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