High Capacities 3D Soft Batteries Have Been Made From Trees

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Batteries are bulky and have a limited storage capacity leading to a slow development of gadgets and other equipment that use batteries as a source of power. Scientists have found a way to make batteries from wood pulp. A method for making elastic high-capacity batteries from wood pulp was unveiled by researchers in Sweden and the US. Using nanocellulose broken down from tree fibres, a team from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University produced an elastic, foam-like battery material that can withstand shock and stress.

This is a big stride made by scientists to develop an innovation from cheap and renewable material. The high capacities 3d soft batteries are tough and flexible and can withstand shock and stress. That is a feature that many stretchable electronics do not possess. The ultra light material they created to build the devices, an aerogel, allowed them to make 3D structures something that has been pursued for more than a decade says iflscience. Although some 3D charge-storage devices have been created in the past, they have been limited by the manufacturing processes used to create the complex architecture.

“There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D,” lead researcher Max Hamedi, of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, said. “We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three dimensions, enabling us to fit more electronics in a smaller device.” And cramming more in means that more power can be stored but in less space than conventional batteries would allow, Hamedi explains.

To create their innovative wood-based aerogel material, scientists from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University started off by breaking down cellulose, a long chain of sugar molecules found in plant cell walls that bestows wood with its strength. After reducing these fibers to around one-millionth of their original thickness, the resulting “nanocellulose” is then dissolved and freeze-dried to remove moisture. Finally, the substance is put through a processing technique that stabilizes the molecules preventing the foam-like material from collapsing. The result is a material that is both strong, light and soft,” said Hamedi. “The material resembles foam in a mattress, though it is a little harder, lighter and more porous. You can touch it without it breaking.” The team then coated this spongy material with an ink that conducts electricity within the aerogel, allowing the researchers to ultimately produce their two 3D energy-storage devices: a hybrid battery and a supercapacitor, which is a rapidly charging and discharging device capable of storing huge amounts of electrical charge. Impressively, the latter was so resistant to impact that it retained full function at compressions of up to 75%, the researchers report in Nature Communications.

Read: Self healing batteries

The scientists have further provided that the devices could ultimately be used in electric cars or even in clothing to charge gadgets. The renewable soft batteries will be of great advantage to Kenyans following the many illegal untaxed batteries that are imported into the country that forced the closure of Eveready East Africa Nakuru Plant.

Read: Smartphone batteries: better but no breakthrough in 2015

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Erick Vateta
Tech Editor at Kachwanya.com
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Erick Vateta is a lawyer by training, poet, script and creative writer by talent, a model, and tech enthusiast. He covers International tech trends, data security and cyber attacks.
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