Biofuels used to power body implants

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

A leading biofuel energy researcher speaking at Eastern New Mexico University on Tuesday explained how the technology is used to power devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

Plamen Atanassov, professor of chemical and nuclear engineering at the University of New Mexico, said he’s researching advanced biofuel cells and how they can be used to power devices implanted in the body using natural chemicals.

He also touted the potential of biofuels to provide a more environmentally sound energy source.

Atanassov said biofuel cells in some cases could be used to power vehicles.

SAAB, General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. are among the companies who have invested millions of dollars in fuel cell cars. The first fuel cell cars were launched on Dec. 3, 2002.

GM officials have a goal by 2010 to provide around 40 minivans and SUVs which use fuel cells for power, according to New Energy Report Web site. Atanassov said he looks forward to the future of biofuel cell technology.

“For me personally, it’s about learning how to make better biofuel cells for our future,” Atanassov said about today’s technology.

Fuel cells supply electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen electrochemically without combustion. Unlike a battery, a fuel cell does not run down or require recharging. It will produce energy in the form of electricity and heat as long as fuel is supplied, according to the Open Source Network Web site.

Juchao Yan, an ENMU assistant chemistry professor, worked with Atanassov at UNM to develop microfuel cells in 2002. He said Atanassov presentation provided the most up-to-date knowledge on biofuel technology.

“It was quiet interesting,” James Finley, an ENMU chemistry professor, said. “There’s a lot of potential in the application.”

Atanassov said Motorola is experimenting with sugar packets to recharge cell phones.