Yeah, you heard precisely right; the future world is going to be very strange. And one such strange feat is going to happen with future batteries. Future batteries are now going to make up with the help of viruses. Before discussing the Battery, which is created from this virus, we first need to know about the virus.
What are Viruses?
A virus is a microscopic infectious particle made up of an RNA or DNA genome enclosed in a protein shell. They can’t replicate on their own: it can create more viruses by entering only one Cell and using its cellular machinery.
When a virus infects the host cell, it removes its protein coat and instructs its machinery to move and translate its genetic material. The hijacked Cell gathers replication components in thousands of viral progeny, which can burst and kill the host cell. The new viruses then infect more host cells.
Discovery of Future Virus Batteries:
Viruses are a continual head-scratcher for us because they’re not technically alive. As mentioned above, they have to inject their genetic material into a living cell and get that Cell to replicate their genetic material. They’re kind of like microscopic pirates.
There’s one particularly pioneering team at MIT that’s using viruses for their own devices. They recognized that while viruses may insert their genome into our cells for destructive purposes, we can insert information into their genome to make stuff (like batteries).
MIT researchers have shown they can genetically engineer viruses to build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery.
The new virus-produced batteries have the same energy capacity and power performance as state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries considered to power plug-in hybrid cars. They could also power a range of personal electronic devices, said Angela Belcher, the MIT materials scientist who led the research team.
They’re working with the M13 bacteriophage; a cigar-shaped bacteriophage is a kind of virus that only infects bacteria, and whose circular genome is relatively simple and easy to manipulate.
“We’ve been engineering biology to control nanomaterials that are not normally grown biologically,” Belcher says. “We’ve expanded biology’s toolkit to work with new materials.”
In 2009, MIT bioengineering professor Angela Belcher traveled to the White House to demonstrate a short battery for President Barack Obama. Belcher used the virus to assemble positive and negative electrodes of lithium-ion batteries.
This engineering breakthrough promised to reduce the toxicity of the battery manufacturing process and boost its performance. Obama was preparing to announce $ 2 billion for advanced battery technology, and what Belcher’s coin cell might have in the future.
What is the science behind Future Viruses Batteries?
Scientists uncover bunches of this virus with the material that they want it to be like a specific type of metal. Then, by natural or engineered changes in the genome of that virus will be able to alter the surface of the virus on the material of choice.
Scientists then take the viruses that have latch onto the ‘learned’ material and pop them into the bacteria that the virus would generally infect, which then makes millions of copies of those modified viruses. When millions of viruses perform the same task together, they produce usable material.
If you repeat this process repeatedly, those bacteria become viral replication factories, which can pump your bioengineering bidding to a thinly venerated viral device.
The production of the batteries can also be manufactured cheaply without an environmentally damaging process. The Battery “takes place at and below room temperature and requires no harmful organic solvents, and the materials that go into the Battery are non-toxic,” reports MIT.
How will the virus make a battery?
Scientists can make a batch of viruses that latch onto cobalt oxide, or another collection that adheres to manganese oxide or iron phosphate. You could do this for tons of elements on the periodic table, but if the particular materials that I just mentioned sound familiar, it’s because we use them in some batteries.
The extra cool thing about this technique is not only that these viruses can be engineered to get metal to glom onto them, but also—those metal-coated viruses can then start to stick to each other. And this forms what is called nanowires or nanotubes.
Nanowire can be used in a battery as electrodes, and after coating the viruses with metal, they grab hold of carbon nanotubes to create a network of highly conductive material.
Because the viruses recognize and bind specifically to certain materials (carbon nanotubes in this case), each nanowire can be electrically “wired” to conducting carbon nanotube networks. Electrons can travel along with the carbon nanotube networks, percolating throughout the electrodes to the iron phosphate or any metal and transferring energy in a short time.
The team found that incorporating carbon nanotubes increases the cathode’s conductivity without adding too much weight to the Battery. In lab tests, batteries with the new cathode material could be charged and discharged at least 100 times without losing any capacitance. That is fewer charge cycles than currently available lithium-ion batteries, but “we expect them to be able to go much longer,” Belcher said.
The prototype is packaged as a typical coin cell battery. Still, the technology allows for the assembly of very lightweight, flexible, and conformable batteries that can take the shape of their container.
Future of viruses batteries will come?
Back in 2009, the MIT team made a lithium-ion battery using this viral assembly technique— and the Battery worked! It powered an LED light. The Cell she demoed for Obama was a standard lithium-ion coin cell like you might find in a watch and power a small LED.
The team is also working on using these microbial factories to make lithium-oxygen batteries, also called lithium-air batteries. That’s a kind of Battery where oxygen drives the chemical reaction that causes the battery work.
We have demonstrated that we can significantly improve a lithium-air battery’s charge-storage capacity by using our genetically modified viruses to build nanowires to use in the Battery’s cathode. A lithium-oxygen battery could theoretically store ten times more energy with its mass than a lithium-ion alternative.
To continue pursuing this exciting battery production technique for all kinds of batteries, the MIT team is now focusing on getting their viruses to have them grow in more ordered 3D structures as opposed to random ones.
When did future batteries will come?
Belcher has not yet brought the technology to market. Still, She says he and his colleagues have several papers under review that shows how the technology can be commercialized for energy and other applications.
Using viruses batteries for lithium-air and lithium-ion batteries as the medium for synthesis was “out-of-the-box thinking” says Jie Xiao at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, who was not involved in the study
She says that although it is still too early for the concept of lithium-air batteries to go on the market, research “may inspire alternative groups to work towards this in the lithium-air-battery technology development” Can accelerate. “
So, all of this technology is still very much in the research and development phase. Still, with techniques like viral-mediated electrode assembly, maybe we’re closer to seeing a virus powered battery car on the road.