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Biodegradable, paper-based biobatteries

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University at New York have created a biodegradable, paper-based battery that is more efficient than previously possible. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi

A biodegradable, paper-based battery has been developed by researchers at Binghamton University, State University at New York, which they claim is more efficient than previously attempts.

Previous, efforts made to develop a paper-based, eco-friendly alternative to batteries have never been quite powerful enough, the researchers say. They were also difficult to produce and it was questionable whether they were really biodegradable.

According to the Binghamton team, this new design solves all of those problems.

"There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that," said Associate Professor Seokheun ‘Sean’ Choi of Binghamton University. "Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries."

The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties, according to the team.

The degradation of the battery was tested in water where it “clearly biodegraded without the requirements of special facilities, conditions or introduction of other microorganisms”.

The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible, Choi said, while flexibility also provides another benefit.

"Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices," Choi continued.

The team added that producing the biobatteries is a fairly straightforward process and that the material allows for modifications depending on what configuration is needed.

Bethan Grylls

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