Paper-based biobattery promises disposable electronics

August 09, 2018 // By Rich Pell
Researchers at Binghamton University (Binghamton, NY) have created a biodegradable, paper-based battery that they say is more efficient than previously possible.

Up to now, paper-based batteries have been seen as an attractive but elusive eco-friendly alternative to traditional batteries. However the new design, say the researchers, addresses the key issues of power capability, ease of manufacturability, and questions over biodegradability of previous proposed designs.

"There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that, says Associate Professor Seokheun "Sean" Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. "Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries."

The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers, with the latter – poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine – key to giving the battery its biodegrading properties. The degradation of the battery was tested in water and, the researchers say, it clearly biodegraded without the requirements of special facilities, conditions, or introduction of other microorganisms.

The polymer/paper hybrid structures are lightweight, low cost, and flexible. The flexibility, say the researchers, also provides another benefit, enabling potential power enhancement to be achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.

According to the researchers, producing the biobatteries is a fairly straightforward process and the material allows for modifications depending on what configuration is needed. For more, see " Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper–Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells ."

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