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Q&A: The Engineer Who Wants To Power The World With Carbs

•, By Francie Diep
 You might like carbs, but probably not in the way Percival Zhang does. Zhang, a chemical engineer at Virginia Tech, runs a lab that's dedicated to converting carbohydrates into electricity. The lab's inventions include proofs of concepts showing that carbohydrates are able to power everything from cellphones to cars.

"In my personal view, I think carbohydrates are some of the best chemical compounds for energy storage," he says. "Nature chose this one already." He means that living things, including humans, break down molecules of carbohydrates when they need energy to breathe, eat and generally do all the things organisms do. On the other hand, most of humanity's inventions run on the energy that comes from breaking down molecules called hydrocarbons, which are found in coal, natural gas, and crude oil. 

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