Scientists have created a biodegradable, paper-based battery that is more efficient than previously possible, and could help reduce electronic waste generated in the future. For years, there has been excitement in the scientific community about the possibility of paper-based batteries as an eco-friendly alternative. However, the proposed designs were never quite powerful enough, they were difficult to produce and it was questionable whether they were really biodegradable.
The biobattery, developed by researchers from Binghamton University in the US, uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers – poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) – were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. “There’s been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that,” said Seokheun Choi, associate professor at Binghamton University.
“Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries,” said Choi, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Advanced Sustainable Systems. The team tested the degradation of the battery in water and it clearly biodegraded without the requirements of special facilities, conditions or introduction of other microorganisms. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Choi said that flexibility also provides another benefit.
“Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices,” said Choi. The team said that producing the biobatteries is a fairly straightforward process and that the material allows for modifications depending on what configuration is needed.