3D, High-Capacity Soft Batteries Using Trees
Image source: Max Hamedi and Wallenberg Wood Science Center
Highlight: “Scientists may have just taken a significant stride in the field with the development of two novel high-capacity energy-storage devices made from a cheap and renewable material: wood pulp…To create their innovative wood-based aerogel material, scientists from KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University started off by breaking down cellulose, a long chain of sugar molecules found in plant cell walls that bestows wood with its strength…The team then coated this spongy material with an ink that conducts electricity within the aerogel, allowing the researchers to ultimately produce their two 3D energy-storage devices: a hybrid battery and a supercapacitor..”
Insight: it seems that electricity powered devices are making a come back. The signs are clear with indicators such as the increasing popularity of electric cars, the move by companies to produce large scale home storage battery systems or even the significant development in the deployment of solar PV systems. This demand will also drive a waste and supply problem in a sector already heavily stretched by the rising demand for metals such as cadmium or nickel.
Perhaps the solution relies in developing new battery materials using natural fibers instead. A few recent developments in the field have proven that it is indeed possible to utilize natural fibers as a strong contestant for an electrical conducting support medium. As a matter of fact in nature electrical signals are transmitted with high accuracy and effectiveness by organic tissues (i.e neuron cells). While the field of neurology has mostly focused on working with organisms, there is much potential to combine the findings with newly available technologies. For instance the synaptic feedback mechanism found in neuron cells transmissions using neurotransmitters (molecules) is a very viable model to mimic in electrical/electronic systems and should be explored further as it is likely to continue producing significant breakthroughs..
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What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…