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Alternate Energy

Harness membrane leak potential current of cells for small power need (milli watts)
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(+1, -2)
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Cell such as neurons have a secondary pump driven by stored ATP energy (which is assumed easily derived from glucose for now). The main secondary pump is the 3Na+ out /2K+ in ATPase pump that maintains the cellvoltage of -70mV. In fact, 20-40% of the ATP energy in such cells is devoted just to maintaining this resting potential (that is, without any stimulation even).

Electric Eels have a way for stacking cells in such a way to add up voltages with sufficient current to stun prey. Perhaps we can harness the power of the membrane leak current (while preventing excitation that would cause depolarization) to power small applications such as watches or implanted devices.

Has anyone seen any papers or articles suggesting this idea before?

Armani, Jan 16 2006

Torpedo ray http://www.marineli...ntictorpedoray.html
[normzone, Jan 16 2006]

The unreal appeal of an... Eel-mobile
Feel the zeal. [2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 17 2006]


       Does this mean that if I build a house on the coastline, I could power it with torpedo rays?
normzone, Jan 16 2006

       //Has anyone seen any papers or articles suggesting this idea before?//   

       Just one that I've seen. ; )
<blatant self promo> [link] <b.s.p.>

       Sounds like "The Matrix" to me....   

       If you think that human brains have excess energy that's just going to waste, look no further for proof than the half-bakery!
sophocles, Jan 17 2006

       My understanding of the membrane leak current is that it is entropic: it leaks because there is a gradient. If you tried to capture that, you would decrease the energy and make it less favorable to leak. Imagine it is a spring clock which winds down by itself: in this analogy winding the clock equals maintaining the resting potential. If you hooked a gear to the clock and tried to make it do some work as it wound down, it would be harder for it to wind down - with a really high resistance gear in place it would not wind down at all.   

       On the other hand, asking cells to convert energy into a form that we can capture and use to do work is not an outrageous idea at all. It is called farming.
bungston, Jan 17 2006

       //I don't like farming on principle// I agree - soil is much better.
Ling, Jan 17 2006

       I would like to see a large tank with eel's in it. The tank would be mounted on wheels and powered by an electric motor.
Antegrity, Jan 17 2006

       [Armani], this is a request for a more specific title. "Alternate Energy" is so broad as to be almost meaningless. Thanks.
bristolz, Jan 17 2006

       //I don't like farming on principle// That's an interesting take on tens of thousands (OK "thousands" for the creationists) of years of human development.
//I would like to see a large tank with eels in it// How would they operate the turret and the weapons?
coprocephalous, Jan 17 2006

       I think new scientist has had something like that in it. Its a good idea and it would almost certainly work but due to the size and the power involved (electric eels produce virtually no current, therefore minimal power) it would work best on nanomachines rather than a watch
miasere, Jan 17 2006


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