Biohybrid Cockroach

Researchers at Case Western University have developed a biofuel cell (BFC) for cockroaches. Equipped with a micro-wireless sensor, these BFCs are inserted into the abdomen of a live female cockroach, where the BFC is fuelled by the cockroach’s own blood sugar. The BFC converts the trehalose sugar and oxygen from the air into electricity, which can then be stored for later use in a variety of microdevices such as sensors. The implantable cell was also tested on a shiitake mushroom —albeit with lower electrode responses— proving its overall viability as a renewable source of energy. Such a cell can only generate low amounts of energy, so further research must be conducted in order to find a way to power devices which necessitate higher amounts of energy. Long term, researchers hope that implantable biofuel cells for living organisms will enable them to convert the energy present in living organisms to electricity, to autonomously power microdevices like sensors, microphones, and even cameras. 

Rasmussen, Michelle, Roy E. Ritzmann, Irene Lee, Alan J. Pollack, and Daniel Scherson. “An implantable biofuel cell for a live insect.

Shoji, Kan, Yoshitake Akiyama, Masato Suzuki, Nobuhumi Nakamura, Hiroyuki Ohno, and Keisuke Morishima. “Biofuel cell backpacked insect and its application to wireless sensing.


Artificial Life, Ecological Monitoring, Industry/Natural Commodities, Internet of Things