Apr 08, 2014 I Tom Head

Could Your Blood Charge Your Smartphone?

Nature has given biological systems a 3.7 billion year head start on mechanical technology, and it shows. As a whole, living things are more complex, efficient, mysterious, and (usually) environmentally sustainable than anything we can build. So it stands to reason that biofuel researchers would take advantage of some of these shortcuts to power our electronics.

But Swedish researchers Sergey Shleev and Magnus Falk are taking an especially bold, pragmatic, and taboo-busting approach by looking to our own blood as a possible source of fuel:


The Shleev-Falk blood battery uses the same general technology that the grape battery did ten years ago. It's an energy source that's cheap, potentially easy to miniaturize, and (at the moment) too weak to be of general use—but because it relies on natural metabolic processes, it's clean and endlessly renewable.

Shleev and Falk are currently trying to generate funds for implantable medical technology—blood-powered pacemakers and artificial organs, for example, would especially benefit from blood power. But as our other gadgets become more and more energy-efficient, and we are able to generate more and more power through our bodies' natural processes, the question of how much we can, or should, rely on our own biological processes to power our devices will become more relevant.

Tom Head
Tom Head is an author or coauthor of 29 nonfiction books, columnist, scriptwriter, research paralegal, occasional hellraiser, and proud Jackson native. His book Possessions and Exorcisms (Fact or Fiction?) covers the recent demand for exorcists over the past 30 years and demonic possession.

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