Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) has announced further innovation in its investee’s self-charging battery technology, demonstrating that battery ink cells scaled down in size could successfully produce a 14-volt output solely by harvesting moisture from the air.
The technology is being developed by Strategic Elements’ investee company Australian Advanced Materials, which reduced the size of battery ink cells by four times from 1sq cm in previous work to 25sq mm.
Through scaling, more batteries can be assembled in the same space, leading to increased density and power output. A similar development pathway has occurred in computer chips where greater performance has been achieved by scaling smaller memory cells.
This latest achievement follows Strategic Element’s announcement on Tuesday that this self-charging battery technology is flexible and can be bent more than 2,000 times, demonstrating another competitive advantage over traditional batteries that are bulky and rigid.
Scaling increases density and power output
To produce this 14V output, the Australian Advanced Materials team fabricated a prototype battery pack with 20 scaled-down connected battery ink cells that had the same surface area of the previous five-cell prototype battery pack that only produced 4V.
The reduced size battery pack prototype was tested under open circuit for a two-hour period.
Strategic Elements described it as a “significant advancement to demonstrate scaling to this level so early in the development process”.
Market opportunities for scaled battery cells
Strategic Elements is initially targeting the electronic skin patch sector due to its technology’s ability to harvest electricity from the high humidity levels of human skin.
Along with boosting power output, scaling down the size of battery ink cells provides strong benefits to design freedom for applications that can be powered.
“Battery ink geometry is able to be tailored to utilise available space, unlike traditional bulky batteries which have forced the product to be designed to accommodate them. This is particularly relevant to the devices that are attached to the human body,” the company stated.
According to market research, the electronic skin patch sector produced US$10 billion (A$13 billion) in revenue in 2019 and is forecast to grow to nearly US$40 billion (A$52 billion) by 2030, despite the bulk and rigidness limitations of current batteries.
The technology is being designed to be a hybrid electric generator – battery cell fabricated with a printable ink.
Strategic Elements said the next development milestone is to create a screen printable prototype in the second quarter of 2021.
Screen printing is a widely used technology of choice for printed electronics as it is an existing industrial production method and is capable of producing components at a very small scale.
“Electronic inks are highly advanced functional materials that operate on the nanoscale level. To enable the battery ink to be screen printed, significant engineering and optimisation must be undertaken.”
“Once this has been achieved, the team will focus on extended stability of overall power output,” Strategic Elements added.