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New flexible batteries could be made by users at home

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November 5, 2013

Prof. Som Mitra (left) invented a flexible battery with assistance from Zhiqian Wang, a doctoral student in chemistry (Photo: Jed Medina, NJIT)

Prof. Som Mitra (left) invented a flexible battery with assistance from Zhiqian Wang, a doctoral student in chemistry (Photo: Jed Medina, NJIT)

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Scientists at the New Jersey Institute of Technology have joined the ranks of those from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Stanford University and LG, by creating prototype flexible batteries. Designed for use in electronic devices with flexible displays, they could conceivably be manufactured in any size or shape, or even made at home.

Each battery is made up of a flexible plastic substrate, impregnated with electro-active ingredients consisting of carbon nanotubes and "micro-particles." Lead scientist Somenath Mitra tells us that those particles can be zinc and manganese dioxide in the case of alkaline batteries, or lithium salts for lithium batteries. "The goal is to take existing systems and convert them to a flexible platform" he says.

Batteries made using the technology could be "as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in your living room,” and might even include electric vehicle batteries that could be rolled up and carried in the trunk.

Additionally, it's possible that consumers could make the batteries for themselves, custom-fit to their particular needs. Using a kit, they would coat two sheets of plastic with supplied electrode paste, insert a separating sheet between those two sheets, and then laminate them all together using an included laminating machine.

More information on exactly how the existing batteries were made should be available shortly, when a paper on Mitra's research is published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology

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About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
7 Comments

Neat! I can imagine a virtually complete overlay of a car's body, ending up with maybe none inside the car taking up space. Or adding an inverter to a large wall-size system to convert and store lower-cost off peak power to run a house during dearer high-demand periods if solar panels are winter or cloud limited!

The Skud

With existing lithium battery problems , making them at home might be problematic

Tom Sobieski

I think that is a way cool technology. I might be a little biased since I am from New Jersey.

BigGoofyGuy

A wall inside your house or the exterior of your car might be a poor choice for batteries. It's a good idea if nothing goes wrong, but a fender bender in your car ,or a flood or fire in your house, might make a person regret the decision. A protected area in your trunk or a small outer building/box at home might be best.

Mike Kling

Just email instructions & products to make batteries awesome Force competition alone among battery makers worldwide Super.

Stephen Russell

Great Idea...lots of possibilities for places you could put them...Make clothing that powers portable devices, backs of jackets, hats etc. Wrap the outside of your shed or even your house.

Rich MC

I notice they don't mention charge density, neither in terms of volume nor in terms of weight. Flexible is neat, but if it weighs 20lbs per amp-hour and requires 100 cubic meters per amp-hour, it's not really viable. Yes, I'm aware that those numbers are silly, but I find it telling that they don't mention such vital information for a proposed battery technology.

Bryan Paschke
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