Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dissolvable Batteries - a gift of year 2013

As we prepare to bid farewell to the year 2013, we hear of a giant leap forward in making batteries dissolvable and biodegradable.

A Research Group led by Carnegie Mellon University materials scientist Christopher Bettinger has recently demonstrated this extremely innovative. “Instead of lithium and toxic electrolytes that work really well but aren't bio-compatible, we chose simple materials of biological origin,” Bettinger says. 

The batteries are made from pigments found in cuttlefish ink and may lead to edible, dissolvable power sources. Presently, such batteries are being recommended for new kinds of medical devices. 

It may be added that the conventional battery materials are not safe inside the body unless they’re encased in bulky protective cases that must eventually be surgically removed. Electronics that can either be swallowed or implanted in the body without causing harm could monitor wound healing and disease progression, release drugs, and enable more sensitive neural and cardiovascular sensors and stimulators.

Thus the prototype sodium-ion battery from the CMU researchers uses melanin from cuttlefish ink for the anode and manganese oxide as the cathode. All the materials in the battery break down into non-toxic components in the body.

Although, the melanin batteries don’t match the performance of lithium-ion batteries, but they don’t have to in order to be useful, says Bettinger, who was named one of MIT Technology Review’s 35 innovators under 35 in 2011. The prototypes, described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, currently provide enough power to run simple sensors. 

Read more at MIT Technology Review

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