A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reports genetically engineering viruses that build both the positively and negatively charged ends of a lithium-ion battery.
The virus-produced batteries have the same energy capacity and power performance as state-of-the-art rechargeable batteries being considered to power plug-in hybrid cars, the researchers say.
They add the batteries could also be used to power a range of personal electronic devices.
The viruses - which infect bacteria but are harmless to humans - would go into making batteries through a cheap and environmentally benign process.
It would occur at and below room temperature and require no harmful organic solvents.
And the materials that go into the battery are non-toxic, the scientists claim.
Their work is detailed in a recent online edition of the journal Science.