Typically a battery functions with lithium ions flowing between a negatively charged anode, usually graphite, and the positively charged cathode, usually cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate. But three years ago, an MIT team reported that it had engineered viruses that could build an anode by coating themselves with cobalt oxide and gold and self-assembling to form a nanowire. The “virus batteries” have the energy capacity and power performance similar to rechargeable batteries.
The prototype battery is a coin battery, but the idea is that cell and larger batteries could be made from this process and that one day it will power cars, boats and everything else. As it stands right now, it can go at least 100 charges before performance goes down. That will change of course.
The idea behind industrial bioengineering is that viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms are really microscopic chemical factories. They eat, and through the metabolic process, subsequently secrete things. Wine, cheese, beer and antibiotics are, in that light, really the waste product of selectively fed and bred microbes.