3D-Printed Flexible Batteries

in StemSocial2 months ago

There are hundreds of types of batteries and scientists are constantly trying to improve the existing ones or make completely new ones. One, we have ones that you can 3D-print and have them be flexible on top of that.

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Image by My pictures are CC0. When doing composings: from Pixabay

The development of future batteries never stops and scientists from the Singapore University of Technology came up with a new concept of so-called quasi-solid-state cells. These use solid electrolytes yet allow for bending of the battery. This could prove very important for future bendable electronics such as flexible wearables. But that is not all that is interesting about this new technology. It is also made by 3D-printing.

Getting technology right was not easy. First, they needed graphene oxide. Then they needed carbon nanotubes, calcium ions, and cellulose nanofibers that together created a viscous aerogel. And finding the right mixture took a lot of time. But, in the end, they managed to find the perfect combination to create what they need. Using the nanocarbon aerogel and 3D-printing they made a base structure on which they put iron and nickel nanomaterials. The cathode uses nickel sulfate and the anode uses iron nitrate.

This results in a battery that can be bend to up to 60 % and has extremely good longevity. The scientists say that after 10 thousand cycles it still has 91.3 % of its initial capacity. The only problem is energy density. While the scientists call it ultra-high energy density it depends on which batteries you compare it to. When you compare the new technology to other flexible batteries the numbers are quite good. But when you compare it with more traditional batteries the numbers aren’t that great.

To give you the exact numbers – 28.1 mWh/cm3 and 10.6 mW/cm3. But that probably doesn’t tell you much. So a bit of context. The batteries in Tesla Model 3 have a capacity of 75kWh. And a volume of 184 liters. So, using a bit of math, a battery using the new flexible 3D printed batteries would not provide the 75 kWh. Instead, it would provide only 3 kWh.

But for the uses where flexible batteries would be needed, there these new 3D-printed flexible batteries seem to be the best.

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