We all rely on batteries as they are essential devices but they are not 100% reliable and do present a whole host of problems. Over time they can have trouble retaining a charge or stop working altogether. Others can overheat or leak or even explode. They’re also rigid and often bulky. Imagine if you could do away with your standard AA or Car Batteries and instead have a flexible, incredibly thin battery that could be powered by blood or sweat? Sounds a bit gross but could it be an improvement?
Well, you’ll never guess what? A group of scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute claim they’ve invented just such a battery, one that uses the electrolytes naturally found in bodily fluids. This is creating some excitement as scientists are attempting to find a new crop of “bio-batteries” that run off organic compounds or bodily fluids. The scientists involved in this study claim that their battery could even run on urine or tears! Of course there are health implication to batteries that run on human fluids and testing of the fluids would need to be undertaking. Much like the London Home STI kits that detect any STIs that can be passed across during sexual activity in bodily fluids.
The battery is not only as thin as paper; it virtually is paper. At least 90 percent of the battery is made from cellulose, which is what makes up paper and paper products. Aligned carbon nanotubes make up the remaining 10 percent, which give the paper its conductive abilities and also make it black. The nanotubes are imprinted in the paper, creating what’s called a nanocomposite paper which makes it look, weigh and feel just like paper.
The paper-like quality of the battery means it has significant flexibility. In the future, there is the possibility that the battery could be printed off in long sheets and then cut into smaller custom-sized shapes. The nanocomposite paper can have any pattern, design or shape cut into it and still function as normal. Medical applications could be astounding as more than one sheet could be joined together to power medical implants, such as pacemakers, artificial hearts or advanced prosthetics. The battery would easily fit under the skin without causing any discomfort. Further benefits include the fact that the ionic liquid used doesn’t freeze or evaporate like water, so in effect, the battery could be employed at a wide range of temperatures: from -100 degrees Fahrenheit up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Due to its incredible temperature resistance and light weight construction, manufacturers of vehicles such as automobiles and airplanes might be very interested indeed as both require light, durable materials. There is much excitement over the creation of the new battery as scientists claim it is unique in that it offers a high-energy battery and a high-power supercapacitor. Supercapacitors are able to produce big, fast bursts of energy allowing for many uses and applications in future technology.
The battery is also environmentally friendly due to its lack of chemicals and high cellulose content might still be a way off in the production of long sheets. The scientists are still busy trying to boost the battery’s efficiency and work out the very best method for production. You won’t be powering anything by blood, sweat and tears just yet!