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    Default Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    What's the feasibility of developing implantable electronics that would convert the energy stored fats and sugars in the user's blood into electricity that could charge their personal electronics? Theoretically it seems like it should be possible, but the question is if it could ever be practical, and if so, how soon?

    Because it seems to me that something like this would be immensely useful, not only because you wouldn't need to find a place to plug your phone in anymore, but more importantly because it would solve America's obesity problem and energy dependence issues. It would allow the extra energy we all take in in the form of fast food and chips and takeout and stuff to be put to use, and not put to use climbing steps to nowhere or rowing a boat that doesn't exist or lifting things that don't need to be moved either, put to actual practical use.

    EDIT:
    And if achieved, it would also cure diabetes

    EDIT:
    But the question is could such a device ever theoretically be made small enough? and would it run cool enough that it wouldn't risk burning the user? And would it generate significant byproducts or pollution that would need to be dealt with?

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    EDIT:
    And if achieved, it would also cure diabetes
    What? No, it wouldn't. Do you also think regular exercise cures diabetes? Or just dieting?


    That said... I guess there's nothing that says it's impossible but that's not saying it's feasible. It mostly depends on what smart trick you're using to convert one into the other while being efficient enough (in this case efficiency would be important because you probabl don't want you implant to create excess heat inside your body.
    Though, I'm not aware of any such technology existing yet.
    Just estimating numbers + quick google teels me you won't be solving any obesity problem because a phone charge is around 10 food calories, while normal human diet is around 2000 daily (very roughly)

    Also, it's not going to fix energy dependency of any country, because if you want energy from your food you might as well just burn it which is efficient enough. (which some countries do with excess food) It might help a bit but you won't run a country on it. If you figure out a technology that can turn sugar and fat into electricity more efficiently, youll probably not do it in people.
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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Probably not worth it for charging your phone, but there are applications where it is being considered. Medical implants in particular it would be a boon to, as it can allow entirely enclosed implants. This is good for precisely the reason you would not want to do it for what you are suggesting. An interface with the outside to an implant is basically a permanently open wound, so getting power in or out is difficult to make safe.

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fat Rooster View Post
    An interface with the outside to an implant is basically a permanently open wound, so getting power in or out is difficult to make safe.
    This. The designs and even working prototypes have existed for at least a decade, IIRC. But no matter what you use to generate power (the one I read about was a simple screw-shaped propeller that was activated by blood pulses), the problem is that you need to get the energy out, and that means a permanent gash in the skin that can't heal, and thus is just a mess of blood and pus and the like.

    The closest we've got to in this field is pacemakers, who have sort of the opposite problem: they need batteries changed, and they'd rather not have to do open heart surgery every time, but external batteries are just a major issue, because no matter how well you try to seal the line going in or out, bacteria will find a way, now that the skin can't fully close.

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2019-04-10 at 01:48 PM.
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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    What? No, it wouldn't. Do you also think regular exercise cures diabetes? Or just dieting?


    That said... I guess there's nothing that says it's impossible but that's not saying it's feasible. It mostly depends on what smart trick you're using to convert one into the other while being efficient enough (in this case efficiency would be important because you probabl don't want you implant to create excess heat inside your body.
    Though, I'm not aware of any such technology existing yet.
    Just estimating numbers + quick google teels me you won't be solving any obesity problem because a phone charge is around 10 food calories, while normal human diet is around 2000 daily (very roughly)

    Also, it's not going to fix energy dependency of any country, because if you want energy from your food you might as well just burn it which is efficient enough. (which some countries do with excess food) It might help a bit but you won't run a country on it. If you figure out a technology that can turn sugar and fat into electricity more efficiently, youll probably not do it in people.
    Cure diabetes? Maybe not (esp. depending on what type you have). But it is quite easy to MANAGE diabetes with diet and/or exercise. I was diagnosed in May, 2015 and have been off medications since Sept, 2016. And now pretty constantly have a fasting level of 95 (and my last a1C was 5.1).
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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    What? No, it wouldn't. Do you also think regular exercise cures diabetes? Or just dieting?
    Ok maybe "cure diabetes" is a bit hyperbolic, but it would by its nature lower your blood sugar, thus negating the symptoms directly resulting from excessibe blood sugar (such as messed up kidney function)

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    Cure diabetes? Maybe not (esp. depending on what type you have). But it is quite easy to MANAGE diabetes with diet and/or exercise. I was diagnosed in May, 2015 and have been off medications since Sept, 2016. And now pretty constantly have a fasting level of 95 (and my last a1C was 5.1).
    Yes, but as someone who has diabetes you should know there is a huge difference between curing a disease and treating the symptoms. If you get an insulin pump implanted that measures your blood sugar and basically does what your pancreas should do, you're still not cured, you'll just have an easier time managing it.
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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    Yes, but as someone who has diabetes you should know there is a huge difference between curing a disease and treating the symptoms. If you get an insulin pump implanted that measures your blood sugar and basically does what your pancreas should do, you're still not cured, you'll just have an easier time managing it.
    Depends on whether it's Type I or Type II diabetes as while they both have the same symptoms (lack of blood glucose control), they have very different causes (no native insulin production vs insulin tolerance). Type II can be managed and eventually cured by diet and exercise (insulin injections aren't that useful); Type I requires external insulin and diet monitoring.


    I guess I'm showing my age - when I was taught, you learnt all about Type I with Type II being a passing footnote due to it being fairly uncommon. Now Type II is the standard presentation and nobody remembers about Type I.

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    That said... I guess there's nothing that says it's impossible but that's not saying it's feasible. It mostly depends on what smart trick you're using to convert one into the other while being efficient enough (in this case efficiency would be important because you probabl don't want you implant to create excess heat inside your body.
    Though, I'm not aware of any such technology existing yet.
    I am indeed pretty sure there's nothing on the market - there's probably not anything even close to being on the market - but it definitely possible, because most of what I'm getting at is already done by electric eels; if their electrical organs could be reverse engineered (research which would admittedly probably be expensive and time consuming) all we'd need after that would be some kind of apparatus to convert the output from jolts of electricity to a stable current

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    Just estimating numbers + quick google teels me you won't be solving any obesity problem because a phone charge is around 10 food calories, while normal human diet is around 2000 daily (very roughly)
    I have plenty of other devices that also need to be charged if it comes down to it

    Quote Originally Posted by Kato View Post
    Also, it's not going to fix energy dependency of any country, because if you want energy from your food you might as well just burn it which is efficient enough. (which some countries do with excess food)
    The trick is that this would let you convert excess food that has already been consumed into electricity. Excess food that has already been consumed is arguably America's largest untapped resource

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    The closest we've got to in this field is pacemakers, who have sort of the opposite problem: they need batteries changed, and they'd rather not have to do open heart surgery every time, but external batteries are just a major issue, because no matter how well you try to seal the line going in or out, bacteria will find a way, now that the skin can't fully close.

    Grey Wolf
    I know that there have been prototypes for wirelessly charged pacemakers, which could be a very interesting solution sometime in the nearish future.

    Now just do this inside-out and voila, a few microjoules to, uhh, I dunno, really slowly trickle charge something when solar isn't an option?

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    Default Re: Powered by blood - Is electrical generation from blood sugar or fat feasible?

    Running fuel cells of glucose or other organic chemicals is being researched. A starting point for more info might be the WP page on Enzymatic biofuel cells.

    Apart from medical implants, or wearable tech running off your sweat, one application might be something that could process organic waste into electricity more directly. Currently you have to either burn it, or use bacteria to turn it into methane or ethanol and burn that.
    Last edited by Excession; 2019-04-10 at 06:01 PM.

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