back to article Electronic kit low on juice? SPIT ON IT

An international group of researchers has developed a method for building microbial fuel cells (MFCs) small and efficient enough to be powered by human saliva. The team from Penn State University in the US and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology said that the device, which relies on the decay of …


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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    How much power?

    1mW = 1 milliwatt

    1uW = 1 microwatt, if your keyboard lacks mu (μ)

    1. Cliff

      Re: How much power?

      Pedant! Who cares? It's not like 3 orders of magnitude is like a big deal or anything ;-)

    2. Graham Cunningham


      Surely those "furrin" characters are *only* ever created by copy/paste from a preceding article containing them? Oh, wait...

  2. MdB


    "one microwatt (mW)."

    One microwatt equals 1 µW (or 714 nNorris Linguine / s)

  3. Steve Foster


    ...seems they have that problem licked then.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: Hmmm...

      Nah, it ain't worth spit!

  4. Katie Saucey


    Step 1. glue 100 000 (or about) of these MFCs on panels

    2. Add bacon smell/taste

    3. Release my dogs

    4. Dog food powered house

    I cannot see how anything could possibly go wrong.

  5. Don Jefe

    Carbon Fiber Hannah Montana vs DAT LaserDisc

    I had laboriously typed up this article disguised as a comment going into the reasons why announcing your intentions to create a new 'super product' are always stupid. About how telling everyone exactly how you're going to finance your fortress/bunker/volcano/Voltron is the best way in the world to make somebody else rich.

    All these great examples demonstrating how surprising a market with a ready to use product is what makes you wealthy and detailing your plans beforehand makes me wealthy, because I'll do the exact opposite thing and not tell anyone. Then when the lawyers are suing the hell out of you for IP infringements that haven't happened yet. Legislators are proposing how to tax you, and the customers you'll never have, while you're still dicking around with a logo for your aborted company and looking for an office. I'll be refueling my second zeppelin so I can race my other zeppelin around my submersible volcano bunker.

    All the examples of unbelievably advanced materials I have purchased from the basements of companies who wisely foresaw the litigious cesspool they'd be stuck in if they moved forward in bringing the material to market. (I plan to put them all in a traditional industry research library when I'm dead. To serve as actual, legally recognized prior art, not the bullshit millions of armchair lawyers think constitutes prior art. That's not a joke. It's a part of my 300 Year FUCK YOU Foundation to recognize all the horrible people and their ideas so that one day we can eliminate such people before they mature and become invincible. I expect the name of the foundation will be changed. Maybe).

    But this stuff I've been buying for the past decade isn't all new. A whole shit load of it is from research begun during and shortly following WWII. Thomas Edison had already given birth to his greatest creation by that point, and Patent Trolls were probably responsible for as many WWI casualties as mustard gas. People knew then not to run around blabbing about your plans for super cheap (material) that could revolutionize the world and provide you with wholesale margins of eleventybillion percent.

    I bought a bunch of stuff from Kodak that nobody even knows what the fuck it is. I can't even throw it away (legally). But the box is neat, and I plan on using as a defense if the Patent Trolls ever come knocking again. Yeah, see, Kodak already did that, in 1946. Go ahead. Look in that big, neat looking metal box. Whatever happens will answer so many questions.

    At any rate, I'm fairly up to date on my cutting edge materials. What's in labs this year will be stopping by here on the way to market so we can build inspection instrumentation for the happy new users of whatever it is. In 2013 the VC group I'm with invested $14.6 million dollars in various materials science and engineering efforts (that's a chunk of money in that field) and precisely zero of them involved Graphene. Know why? Because it's already a joke at conferences and trade shows. Not its potential, but the fact that just everything you can possibly imagine can be done with it is already patented, or on its way to being so. The fact this doodad involves saliva is mildly interesting because that's about 1/2 a step away from being compatible with shoving in someone's fun port, and with the boundary into orgasmic pleasure being breached Graphene will, truly, be unlimited in its utility and completely worthless due to its liability.

    The general public has no concept of how forward looking manufacturing is. Things that we build for big contract manufacturers often deal with ROI's of 10-15 years, and even longer periods for certain things. All the neat new form factors of 'stuff' that float through the new gadget media year are usually old ideas that have been rehashed as unrelated processes have come into play that make a once 'fanciful' idea feasible, but we're not talking 2-3 years to production. Five plus years from a conceptual sketch to being actually churned out isn't uncommon at all. Somebody's design for the iPod, for instance, is a mix of what seems cool, and what's economically feasible to design and build a machine to produce. The economics of those things are a high paying career field in themselves.

    But all that planning, sound economics with embedded overages for risk, endless supply chain efficiencies, all that stuff, and a while lot more, gets blown to useless bits when you add an all new material to scaled production lines. The initial investments are stunningly huge and nobody, absolutely nobody, is going to make the required investment if the chances of a left field lawsuit coming along is nearly certain. If you invest hundreds of millions of dollars on new production equipment with a 10 year ROI, and 13 months in everything that equipment produces has a 9% 'IP Fee' then you've just lost insanely huge amounts of money. A 9% rise in per unit production costs is more than enough to kill even big margin operations. It just isn't worth messing with.

    Somebody is eventually going to hit on a viable use for Graphene and the entire manufacturing universe is going to shrug and say 'Meh. We'll run the lines, but you've got to pony up the billions it's going to take to engineer, manufacture and turn on the scads of bespoke equipment you're going to need. We aren't paying for it'.

    Maybe Graphene will end up in my Prior Art reference library one day...

  6. Lord Raa

    Does anyone know how well MFCs scale their power output?

    Assuming that they do scale in an efficient manner, I'm having silly thoughts like they could be used with conjuction with sewage and/or landfill sites for some kind of green-hued, quasi-renewable energy source.

    Feel free to point out where I'm going wrong with this thinking as it's early and I can't do the analysis very well at the best of times.

    1. Don Jefe
      Thumb Up

      Well, if nothing else your idea is interesting. Unfortunately, interesting ideas aren't welcome in the fields of distributed energy geberation, waste disposal or renewable energy. It plainly states in you copy 'Maximizing Taxpayer Contributions for Grant Applicants' that nobody is supposed to even talk about remotely interesting concepts that could jeopardize the current system of government controlled contribution equalization systems currently in place. Even at today's growth rates we've got 70+ years of affordable capacity creation opportunities left so before you go having any more interesting ideas please use what we already have Mr. Green.

  7. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I'd been trying all morning to remember the name of Microsoft's windows class library, and up pops this article - thanks!

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