27 Feb. 2021. Every year, people worldwide dispose of billions of batteries, but only 20% of this waste is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, which is dangerous because they contain potentially toxic or corrosive materials (like cadmium and nickel) that can leak into the surrounding environment.
Just in the UK, almost 20,000 tons of batteries are sent to landfill annually. Striving to provide a solution to this situation, a team of Binghamton University scientists has created a biodegradable paper battery.
Professor Sean Choi, a scientist who worked on the project, said: "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."
Paper-based batteries have been proposed already as an environmentally friendly alternative, but the designs were not entirely biodegradable, challenging to produce, and not powerful enough. Hence, the Binghamton team developed a better, more efficient one with none of these problems.
Their battery (or hybrid “biobattery”) uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers to overcome all the issues plaguing previous paper-battery designs. The key ingredients that gave their batteries biodegradable properties were the polymers: poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine). These polymers make it possible for the cells to break down in the water without any chemicals or special facilities.
Associate professor Seokheun, another scientist who worked on the project, said: "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."
The polymer-paper cells are cheap, lightweight, and flexible. Flexibility is the key to their success because folding or stacking them can enhance their power.
Choi said: "Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices."
Producing and modifying the biobatteries is easy. The material allows for modifications to suit whatever configuration is needed.
The scientists hope their creation could someday be an eco-friendly alternative to conventional batteries that can contaminate the planet. They envision their novel technology dominating the market in the future as people worldwide work to reduce e-waste as much as possible.
Andrea D. Steffen www.intelligentliving.co