An enzyme-catalysed battery has been created that could one day run cell phones and laptop computers on shots of vodka.

The key to the device is a new polymer that protects the fragile enzymes used to break down the ethanol fuel.

Toshiba has just unveiled its first miniature methanol-powered fuel cell, which promises to keep laptops running for five hours between re-charging. But Shelley Minteer at St Louis University in Missouri says: “The main advantage of ethanol over methanol is that it is simply more readily available. We have actually run our cells off vodka and gin.”