Scientists Developed Efficient Paper-Based Biobatteries

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Novel biobattery designs are easy to produce, cost-efficient, and flexible as compared to other paper-based batteries

Researchers from Binghamton University, State University at New York created a biodegradable, paper-based battery, which is eco-friendly alternative to other type of batteries. Paper battery designs proposed by previous studies were difficult to produce and degrade. Associate Professor Seokheun Sean Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Professor Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department worked on the project together. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The research paper, titled “Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells,” was published in Advanced Sustainable Systems in August 2018.

The biobattery utilizes hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers — poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) — were used to makes batteries biodegradable. To examine the biodegradation properties, team tested the battery in water, it was found that battery biodegraded without the requirements of special conditions or introduction of other microorganisms. “There’s been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that,” said Choi. “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. The work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and done through the Center for Research in Advanced Sensing Technologies and Environmental Sustainability (CREATES)

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