Biodegradable battery made of paper could help with e-waste reduction
A biodegradable, paper-based battery has been developed by Binghamton University researchers who say it is more efficient than previously possible.
While other paper-based batteries have been proposed in the past as an eco-friendly alternative, the designs were never quite powerful enough and were difficult to produce. Questions also remained over whether they were actually biodegradable.
But the new project overcomes these issues using 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.
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.
Furthermore, the battery exhibits a much higher power‐to‐cost ratio than “all” other paper‐based microbial batteries, the research team said.
“There’s been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that,” said associate professor Seokheun who worked on the project. “Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries.”
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.
Most e-waste currently ends up in landfill and batteries in particular can give off toxic chemicals that poison the surrounding environment.
A UN report last year found that just 20 per cent of the world’s e-waste is being recycled.