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article imagePaper batteries: they work in a 400 degree temperature range, weigh almost nothing

By Paul Wallis     Aug 14, 2007 in Science
Yep, a paper battery, with about the same amount of energy as a lithium ion battery, in the same way. The prototype produces 2.5 volts, but the developers say it can be cranked up to power electronic equipment.
All you have to do is stack the things to increase the power levels.
Developed by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the batteries are a whole new ball game in electronics. (Tried to check out the Institute's website, but it's all subscriber, and no site search.)
The Sydney Morning Herald waxes lyrical about the batteries. Carbon nanotubes provide the electrodes, ionic liquid is the electrolyte, and as it turns out, cellulose in paper is a good separator. The nanotubes are imprinted in the paper, and the paper is then soaked in the liquid. The batteries are actually 90% paper.
The temperature range of operations is something new. The batteries work in temperatures ranging from 300 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 100. The distinction is that domestic power sources usually don’t work in anything like ranges. That means that the uses of these batteries could be extended far beyond the operational parameters of others. It also means batteries can be incorporated in everything from thermal sensors to cooking appliances. Power sources for low usage items which now use DC adapters could also be greatly simplified.
Economically, the possible savings are huge. Batteries are expensive to make, major polluters, using some very nasty chemicals, not at all efficient, and what they can do or not do puts limits design of electronic devices. The paper batteries can be shaped, rolled, trimmed, and fit into anything, and still function. In theory you could literally buy a few from the newsagent and have a supply for everything you have that uses this type of battery.
I don’t see why you couldn’t make car batteries out of the stuff. After all, a battery is a battery. Developments of this idea, and a bit of rational power usage, might make the batteries useful for macro power supplies and storage, too.
It so happens that the weight and irritating behavior of conventional batteries is as much of nuisance to engineers as it is to consumers. These batteries literally weigh as much as paper, and take up that sort of space. So they could free designers of a lot of problems.
The developers are still working on a mass production technique. One current idea (sorry) is to produce the batteries in rolls, like newspapers.
Might take care of what to do with all those old printing presses, too.
More about Batteries, Paper, Carbon nanotubes
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