Innovation That Matters

Paper battery

Paper batteries could power smart packaging


A newly created flexible bio-based paper battery could enable the development of smart packaging.

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Products have always been designed to fit battery design. Furthermore, when batteries run out, their disposal can pollute the environment. We’ve previously seen how paper batteries are being developed as a solution to these limitations. Now, Sweden-based BillerudKorsnäs has a plan to use its own paper battery design to create smart packaging.

BillerudKorsnäs has developed the technology in collaboration with Uppsala University. The process uses algae to produce natural cellulose fibers. These are then manufactured into a conductive biopolymer that’s also thin and flexible. BillerudKorsnäs has also been using the same materials in another project, to produce sustainable packaging.

The long term goal now is to combine the two projects: use paper batteries in the development of new packaging technologies. The flexible batteries could power a variety of sensors that form part of the packaging. BillerudKorsnäs predicts that these sensors could be used for product quality control. Food safety could be guaranteed by using sensors that record how temperature was maintained during transport. Or other sensors could geotag products to ensure security and transparency at every step of the supply chain. Users could verify this using just the packaging upon the product’s arrival. After use, all the materials in the packaging will be used again in the manufacture of new packaging, forming a zero waste closed loop.

Everything about the manufacturing process is planned with costs in mind. BillerudKorsnäs is using materials and processes that will enable widespread mass production across industries.

Packaging is seen as a necessary, but often overlooked, part of the supply chain. We’ve seen an initiative to remove packaging entirely, replacing product info with augmented reality technology. Another project has seen NFC technology embedded in packaging to provide a deeper user experience. Are there other ways to innovate packaging and the way users can interact with products?



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