Flexible, eco-friendly paper-based batteries make the unimaginable possible

Can batteries be made of paper? Yes, they can. And they can be made thin and pliable and they can be recharged rapidly over and over again. This at least applies to the paper-based battery being developed in Uppsala University’s Enesca project.

“Our battery has properties that make it possible to use electric devices in contexts not previously imaginable with traditional batteries,” says Leif Nyholm, professor at the Department of Chemistry at the Ångström Laboratory.

“It could for example be built into food packages to power sensors monitoring the quality of the contents. Disposable diagnostic kits for single use and toys are other areas where this battery may offer new opportunities.”

The Enesca battery consists of cellulose fibers from green algae called Cladophora, coated with a thin layer of polypyrrole, a polymer conducting electricity. Common salt water is used as the electrolyte. The use of these natural materials makes it possible to develop a completely new type of flexible and eco-friendly system for energy storage.

“It’s the special nanostructure of the green algae cellulose that gives the paper an extremely large surface that can be coated with the polymer. The large surface area means that a large charge can be stored within the material, and as it’s so thin the battery can also be recharged rapidly,” Leif explains.

As the battery does not contain any metals, it can be discarded without costly recycling systems. This makes it ideal for use in disposable products. At the same time it can be recharged many times without losing capacity, which makes it suitable also for other uses. In collaboration with external partners various possible uses are now being studied in order to identify the best applications for the continued development work, and the best way to scale up the production.

For more information visit www.energyscandinavia.eu