Strategic Elements’ (ASX: SOR) investee Australian Advanced Materials has had another success with its self-charging battery technology after revealing it is flexible and can be bent more than 2,000 times, unlike traditional batteries that are rigid.
The self-charging battery was fabricated onto a flexible textile cloth and mechanically bent more than 2,000 times.
This is vastly different to current batteries such as alkaline, coin and lithium which are rigid and bulky. Traditional batteries are unable to be used in flexible electronics or in small and thin devices.
“In early-stage work, the battery ink technology has shown strong potential to be highly flexible power source for electronics, capable of a very small 6mm bending radius (eg smaller than the average adult human finger),” Strategic explained.
The company added that bending strain was one of the main movements that cracks functional thin films and causes flexible electronics to malfunction.
Testing was undertaken at the University of New South Wales, which conducted 2,000 bending cycles for the textile prototype device.
Following this, the battery ink layer on the textile device was inspected and found no visible cracks.
Additionally, voltage output was measured for two hours prior to bending and two hours post. This found “minimal change in voltage” over the periods.
Self-charging battery technology
The self-charging battery has been developed to generate electricity from humidity in the air or skin surface.
According to Strategic, the technology is designed to be a hybrid electric generator – battery cells fabricated with a printable ink.
Strategic’s investee is creating the technology in collaboration with the CSIRO and the UNSW, with development partially funded by a federal government grant.
Previous work on the technology has focused on its ability to harvest energy from humidity in the air and retaining voltage.
These latest mechanical tests now show the flexibility of the technology and provide it with another “potential competitive advantage” over current battery technologies.
Electronic skin patches and environmental sensors
Strategic is targeting the electronic skin patch sector with its technology due to its ability to harvest electricity from the skin.
The company says electronic skin patches are wearable products with integrated electronic components that are attached to the skin’s surface.
In 2019, it’s estimated this niche market produced U$10 billion in revenue and is predicted to grow to US$40 billion by 2030.
Other markets that Strategic sees potential for with this technology include environmental and infrastructure sensors.
These are designed to be built on plastic, glass or wrapped around other curved surfaces that need a power source that can be flexible and adapt to the surface.
Ongoing development of flexible battery technology
The initial focus for the technology will remain with electronic wearables and internet of things-related devices for cosmetic, pressure, environment and health sectors.
Strategic noted these initial markets have lower energy output requirements, with higher performance applications that need a capacitator for energy storage and regulation to be investigated at a later date.
The next development steps in the flexible self-charging batteries will involve increasing power output beyond the comparative time period tested to date.
Further optimisation of the battery’s fabrication and adhesion properties will be conducted – evaluating it on other flexible substrates such as plastic.