March 31, 2021

StrategicElementsBattery400x275Australia’s Strategic Elements Ltd. has announced it has demonstrated the ability for its self-charging Battery Ink cells to be scaled down in size, in order to provide a prototype battery pack that could produce a 14-volt output solely by harvesting moisture from the air.

Through scaling, more batteries can be assembled in the same space, leading to increased density and power output, Strategic Elements said. The size of the Battery Ink cells was reduced from 1cm2 in previous work to 25mm2, achieving a 4x reduction in area. 

The scaled-down Battery Ink pack that produces the 14-volt output has the same surface area as the previous 5-cell battery pack that could produce 4V. The reduced-size battery pack prototype was tested under an open circuit for two hours. The advanced functional material contains hundreds of thousands of nanoscale sheets of a specialized graphene oxide material. The company said this is a significant advancement to demonstrate scaling to this level so early in its development process.

The group’s Battery Ink technology is different from other technologies that use a small number of alkaline or lithium battery cells to power electronics. Battery Ink is being designed to be printed into a battery pack of a larger number of connected battery cells. Printing has the advantage of enabling batteries to be manufactured outside of manufacturing facilities, fabricating light, thin and flexible batteries, as well as simplifying production and reducing costs.

The company also gave some examples of how this technology could be used. “The potential ability for the high humidity levels of the human skin to be harvested by Battery Ink cells and need for a less bulky and flexible power source make the electronic skin patch sector a natural fit for the Battery Ink technology,” said Strategic Elements.

Reduction in size also provides more design freedom for applications, in which the geometry can be tailored to utilize available space, unlike bulkier batteries that force products to be designed to accommodate them. In another example, environmental and infrastructure sensors that are designed to be placed on plastic, glass, or wrapped around other curved sources require power sources that can conform to these surfaces. A market focus on wearables and IoT-related devices such as cosmetic, pressure, environmental and health systems makes sense for the technology since they have lower energy output requirements. Strategic Elements said higher performance applications will include the development of a capacitor for energy storage and regulation, which it will focus on at a later date.

The next development milestone for the technology is to create a screen printable prototype during Q2 2021, the company said. “Screen printing is a widely used printing technology of choice for printed electronics, as it is an existing industrial production method and is capable of producing components at a very small scale,” Strategic Elements said. Once this has been achieved, the team will focus on extending the stability of the overall power output.

Strategic Elements Ltd. is funded by the Australian federal government as a Pooled Development Fund, with a mandate to back Australian innovation. The company operates as a venture builder, where it generates high risk, high reward ventures, and projects from combining teams of leading scientists or innovators. Investors in the company potentially pay no tax on capital gains from selling their shares, as the company operates under the Pooled Development program.

Through its 100% owned subsidiaries, the company is collaborating with Honeywell to build autonomous robotic security vehicles for the correctional justice sector. It is also working with CSIRO to enable robots that work together in teams. It is also working on autonomous technologies for agriculture, and developing printable electronic inks for neuromorphic computing and RRAM memory applications. Through a grant with the University of New South Wales and CSIRO, the company is developing a self-charging electrical generator battery.

Details on all of these projects can be found at the Strategic Elements website.