Venture builder Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) has achieved a critical milestone in the development of its moisture-powered battery ink cells on an Internet of Things (IoT) device equipped with temperature and humidity sensors and Bluetooth capability.
The technology is being developed as part of an Australian Research Council partly-funded collaboration announced last year with the University of New South Wales’ School of Materials Science and Engineering.
The team has gained considerable experience in electronic inks, energy harvesting and storage over the past 10 years and is applying that knowledge in the development of the battery ink technology.
Harvesting energy from moisture
Strategic’s demonstrator battery harvested energy from moisture in the air before converting it to run a Cypress semi-conductor IoT sensor kit with integrated electronic control board and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) communication module.
It enabled real-time temperature and humidity data to be captured and transmitted wirelessly to a laptop via sensors and BLE over a five-hour testing period with a sampling rate of less than 10 seconds.
The semi-conductor kit is essentially a platform designed to demonstrate the development potential of various components including power sources for a range of IoT devices.
This includes smart buildings and homes, where temperature and humidity sensors are becoming a core part of a global multi-billion-dollar market, and BLE wireless connectivity, which is being increasingly used in building energy management systems.
Lightweight cell printing
Strategic’s advanced graphene oxide-based battery ink technology enables extremely small, thin and lightweight battery cells to be printed onto surfaces such as glass and flexible plastic.
The cells are designed to be powered and self-charged by humidity in the air or from the skin.
The ink is being used to produce a battery pack with a large number of miniature cells, allowing more batteries to be assembled in the same area for increased power output.
It is similar in concept to computer chips where greater performance has been achieved by scaling down memory cell size and increasing density.
Global electronics companies have adopted traditional screen printing methods to enable miniature electronic components (down to micrometre size) to be printed onto sheets of plastic.
The battery ink cells fabricated to date have been approximately 0.25 square centimetres in size and Strategic said specialised screen printing equipment at the University of NSW had explored the potential to print components which are hundreds of times smaller.
Materials engineering has been carried out to customise the battery ink for screen printing.
Strategic is aiming to finalise development and testing of a prototype battery ink formulated for screen printing over the next few weeks.