Technology is Awesome: Scientists Has Made Efficient, Biodegradable, Paper-Based Batteries

Batteries. They’re great but they are hard to recycle and if it ends up in landfills, it oozes dangerous chemical liquid. Well, this doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Binghamton University researchers has found a way to reduce conventional battery use with biodegradable, paper-based battery that is more efficient than the ones created before.

Previously, the scientific community as well as the world were excited by the fact that paper-based batteries are something feasible, as that is a great eco-friendly alternative.

Unfortunately, the proposed designs weren’t really powerful or groundbreaking. Back then the idea was not easy to produce and the biodegradable quality was disputable. Until now.

The university’s associate professor from the Electrical and Computer Engineering, Seokheun Choi, and Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department were the ones behind this innovation. While Choi engineered the design of this green battery, Sadik found ways to make it a self-sustaining biobattery.

conventional batteries are quite damaging to planet Earth
conventional batteries are quite damaging to planet Earth

Choi explained, “There’s been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries.”

To make this biobattery, the professors uses a combination of paper and engineered polymers (poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine)).

These two are the ones that gives this battery its biodegradable properties. To test whether this hybrid works or not, the team put the battery in water and it amazingly biodegraded without any special help.

Other than that, the paper-polymer hybrid makes the battery lightweight, flexible, and low cost. According to Choi, this flexibility is beneficial too. “Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices,” said the professor.

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. این باتری زیست تخریب‌پذیر میتواند انرژی ایمپلنت‌های پزشکی را تأمین کند. پژوهشگران دانشگاه Binghamton یک باتری کاملاً زیست تخریب‌پذیر توسعه دادند که اگرچه به طور مستقیم برای کاربردهای پزشکی طراحی نشده است، میتوان آن را در دستگاه‌های کوچک الکتریکی و برای انجام وظایف محدود که نیازی به برداشتن دستگاه‌ها نیست، بکار گرفته شود. این باتری ارزان و انعطاف‌پذیر است و زمانی که در آب خالص قرار گیرد، با گذشت زمان از هم جدا و تجزیه می‌شود. #باتری #محیط_زیست #زیست_تخریب_پذیر #پزشکی #ایمپلنت #biobattery #BinghamtonUniversity @ExosNews

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This innovation was made possible with the support from the National Science Foundation and it was done through the Center for Research in Advanced Sensing Technologies and Environmental Sustainability (CREATES). The research paper of this biobattery, titled “Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells” was published on June 28.

Biobatteries are a trustworthy alternative to traditional batteries that we have right now. And while this battery wasn’t designed for medical applications, where some implantable devices are needed for this purpose because it doesn’t have to be removed from the body, it has the potential to be so.

Moreover, this battery won’t be a liability just like how commercial batteries can be harmful towards the environment. In UK, there are 20,000 tons of batteries that get sent to landfill every year. Imagine the total amount in all countries’ landfills and its impact.

Another project

Aside of this biodegradable paper batteries, Choi and his researcher fellows also made paper batteries which are fueled by bacteria. This other innovation was created to provide a solution to remote areas in the world that have limited to no resources that electricity is considered something luxury because it’s expensive. This hinders health care workers to work properly.

“Paper has unique advantages as a material for biosensors. It is inexpensive, disposable, flexible and has a high surface area. However, sophisticated sensors require a power supply. Commercial batteries are too wasteful and expensive, and they can’t be integrated into paper substrates. The best solution is a paper-based biobattery.”

This type of battery is usually used for medical purposes such as diagnosis of diseases and health conditions as well as detecting contaminants. And previously, researchers have made disposable paper-based biosensors as a cheap and convenient alternative. However, the sensors weren’t very sensitive because the lack of power supply.

Therefore, Choi was inspired to make bacteria-powered paper-based sensors. According to American Chemical Society (ACS), the professor and his team printed thin layers of metals and other materials onto a paper. Then, they placed freeze-dried “exoelectrogens” on the paper.

People in remote areas need more paper-based biobatteries
People in remote areas need more paper-based biobatteries

Exoelectrogens, even though it sounds so chemical, are actually the bacteria. This bacteria type transfer electrons outside their cells (made for themselves). The electrons then pass through a cell membrane and make contact with external electrodes and power the battery.

All you need to activate the battery is by adding water or saliva, and a couple of minutes later, the bacteria gets revived and eventually produce enough electrons to power a calculator and a light-emitting diode.

Apparently, oxygen can affect the battery’s performance. ACS reported that It could soak up the bacteria’s electrons before they reach the electrode.

After the researchers investigate this problem, they discovered that indeed oxygen decreased power generation, but only at minimal amount. The bacterial cells were tightly attached to the paper fibers and before oxygen could interrupt anything, the cells rapidly whisked the electrons away to the anode.

The paper battery is disposable and it has four months shelf-life. For now, Choi is working to the performance of freeze-dried bacteria, improving its shelf life.

(above is the picture of sugar-based biosensors that works similarly)

He said, “The power performance also needs to be improved by about 1,000-fold for most practical applications.” The professor has applied for a patent and he’s looking for industry partners to commercialize this innovation.

Just like the biodegradable batteries, this bacteria-powered battery also received support and funding from National Science Foundation. Additionally, the Office of Naval Research and the Research Foundation for the State University of New York also supported Choi’s team.

Thought about the paper batteries? Don’t hesitate to tell us what you think in the comments down below. Also, if you’re thirsty for eco-friendly alternative and innovation, make sure to click this article!



Scientists Develop Biodegradable, Paper-Based Biobatteries

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