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Green Algae-Based Batteries Show Tremendous Potential

by Lambert Varias
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Almost every aspect of electronic devices have been vastly improved – or at least miniaturized – these days. Touchscreen displays are becoming common. Monitors and TVs are becoming larger, thinner and the overall quality of their displays are improving as well. Solid state storage is on the rise, and processors are regularly miniaturized or get performance boosts. Unfortunately there have been few breakthroughs with batteries. We can’t enjoy all the rest of the new technology if our devices are dead, can we? But fear not, because the nerds are on it: scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden are developing highly efficient and paper-thin batteries using cellulose produced by Cladophora, a type of green algae.

algae_battery_1

Cladophora, which are found in beaches worldwide, produce cellulose with an unusually large surface area, “100 times that of the cellulose found in paper”, which in turn allowed the scientists to create batteries with a “dramatically larger amount” of conducting polymer. Conducting polymers are non-metallic conductors which can be used as battery material, but have proven quite impractical for various reasons. Until now, that is.

algae_battery_2

The algae cellulose-conducting polymer batteries made by the researchers in Uppsala University hold 50 to 200 percent more charge than similar conducting polymer batteries, and may someday compete with commercial lithium batteries… Charge times could also trump today’s rechargeables – the researchers managed to recharge their test batteries in anywhere from 8 minutes down to as little as 11 seconds. Are you kidding me?!

That’s not all, these batteries are so thin that the Swedish researchers are looking into novel applications for them, like embedding them into wallpapers or clothes equipped with sensors that react to stimuli. I’m looking forward to OLED newspapers, interactive novels, and holographic pop-up books, but hopefully this technology can also lead to laptops that literally last the whole day. Read the full article at ACS for more info.

[via LiveScience]

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