First it was the snails, now it’s the turn of the clams to be plugged in and used as living batteries. The same group of scientists from the US and Israel, led by Evgeny Katz, has now implanted biofuel cells into clams and integrated them into batteries.

The researchers implanted the battery’s electrodes in the clam through holes cut into their shells. To produce power, enzymes on the electrodes catalyse the oxidation of glucose, which the clams produce when they metabolise food.

The cyborg clam: implanted with biocatalytic electrodes

Katz’s team even set up the clams in series and parallel and tested their power outputs, comparing the two arrangements. Three clams set up in series produced a measly 5.2µW; three clams in parallel generated a massive 37µW.

They hooked up the clams to a capacitor to collect the energy for an hour and then discharged it through an electrical motor and managed to make the motor rotate a quarter of a full turn. The team says this is the first step on the long journey to bioelectronic self-powered cyborgs for potential military and homeland security applications. Self-powered cybernetic organisms? Now I can’t get the image of a Terminator clam brandishing an Uzi 9mm out of my head!

Hasta la vista, baby!

Elinor Richards

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