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 cockroachâ€™s hemolymph and oxygen from the air to make electric energy.Â As long as the cockroach keeps eating, the fuel cell keeps running.
LiveScienceÂ lays out how electrodes inserted into the cockroachâ€™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. â€œIn fact,â€ says lead author Michelle Rasmussen, â€œit is not unusual for the insect to right itself and walk or run away afterward,â€ which only further confirms our suspicion that cockroaches can resistÂ anything. …
from Discover Magazine