Battery recycling is still a nightmare with lithium-ion batteries, although lead-acid has cracked the code. Not long ago, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Binghamton University, New York posed a leading question. Why not make them from something truly biodegradable, they asked. It seems we could have batteries made from paper if they are right.
However, Batteries Made from Paper Is Not a New Idea
Scientists have been pondering over the possibility for a while because batteries made from paper should be biodegradable and cheap, at least in theory. However, to date, the batteries lacked sufficient power and were difficult to manufacture.
Technology Networks just revealed Binghamton University might have found the answers. “There’s been a dramatic increase in electronic waste. And this may be an excellent way to start reducing that,” Prof Choi told media. “Because our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries.”
The Secret Sauce in the New Paper Batteries
Firstly, Prof Choi enlisted help from Prof Sadik in the Chemistry Department. Then the two came up with a hybrid of engineered polymers and paper. This proved to be the key to manufacturing batteries with biodegradable properties.
The batteries made from paper and engineered polymer biodegraded naturally in water. They are flexible and lightweight Prof Choi explained to Technology Networks. “Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices,” he added.
Moreover we gather the manufacturing process is ‘fairly straightforward technology and allows for different configurations.” The National Science Foundation funded the project through the Center for Research in Advanced Sensing Technologies and Environmental Sustainability.
The Binghamton University paper in Wiley Online Library concludes as follows: “The bio battery clearly biodegrades without the requirements of special facilities and conditions. Or introduction of other microorganisms” so they appear to have a runner.
Preview Image: Seokheun “Sean” Choi and Omowunmi Sadik
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