A startup has developed a non-toxic, paper-based battery that has no ecological impact
Ever more devices are being run on lithium batteries. One concern with the proliferation of these batteries is that they tend to contain toxic materials that are difficult to dispose of cheaply and in a way which does not harm the environment. Now, Barcelona-based Fuelium has come up with a green energy solution. They have developed paper-based batteries that can be thrown away, with no need to recycle and no harmful effects. Unlike the batteries of flashlights and computers, Fuelium’s batteries use a supply of energy from an electrochemical reaction to produce electricity. Paper is used as the base material and to transport the fluids by capillary action.
Fuelium’s batteries are designed for powering portable electronic devices used for in-vitro diagnostics. Examples include tests for pregnancy, glucose levels and infectious diseases, which are normally used only once. They currently rely on lithium button batteries to supply the energy necessary to analyze the samples and display the results. However, most are thrown out after using only around one percent of the batteries’ charge. In contrast, Fuelium’s batteries only generate the amount of energy needed for each use. They use the sample itself (such as urine or blood) to create the small amount of electricity needed. The batteries can be integrated with components such as sensors and display screens using printed electronics technology.
The Fuelium batteries can be customized to suit applications requiring between one and six volts, and the materials are compatible with the manufacturing processes for most existing rapid diagnostic tests. Fuelium’s paper batteries join other innovative battery solutions such as a bio-battery powered by dirty water and external batteries that charge at night. In the future, Fuelium hopes to be able to produce paper-based batteries for a wider range of applications. What other uses might there be for paper-based batteries?