The humble cockroach, which many consider to be a household pest, could soon be a viable electricity source.
After a five-year study, researchers have discovered that the insect produces chemicals that have a maximum power density of around 100 microwatts for each square centimeter at about 0.2 volts. Furthermore, it could reach up to 450 micro amps per square centimeter.
This electricity generated is a result of a chemical reaction that occurs within the cockroach’s body. To do this, one needs to make use of enzymes in a series. These enzymes are used in an anode, or an electrical conductor in which electricity flows.
First, an enzyme splits the sugar trehalose into two simpler forms of sugar called monosaccharides. Then, another enzyme oxidizes these monosaccharides. This process of oxidation unleashes electrons, which are then drawn to the cathode.
This system is then inserted into a cockroach, specifically, into a sinus in the abdomen, where it is far from the vital organs. The good news is that this insertion does not give long-term damage.
In fact, the insect is able to walk or run away after the process. This is because cockroach has open-type circulatory system that does not have as much blood pressure as a mammal’s, in which case, inserting said system would be dangerous.
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