Can we turn moisture in the air into a power source to charge electronic devices?
Australian start-up Strategic Elements is working with the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to develop a new self-charging battery technology: step-change, and has demonstrated its charging capacity has the potential to increase from mAh up to Ah.
Looking at converting water vapor into electricity, charging capacity is not expected to be high but the team is targeting a niche market, using sweat and water vapor on the body to provide power for wearable devices, especially targeting the electronic skin market. In the future, such devices may no longer need a charger. The team believes that the new technology can meet the power requirements of most devices in the more than US$10 billion Electronic Skin Patch market.
However, Strategic Elements has not presented technical details on itswebsite, only stating that the material used was graphene oxide and more than 100 battery cells were made by coating graphene oxide ink on glass.
According to the official website, the thinnest battery is thinner than a human hair, about 10-20 microns thick, and about 1 mm in size. It can be fully charged within 3 minutes using water vapor and one battery can generate 0.7 volts. Hopefully, in the future, power can be increased to 3.7 volts by connecting batteries in series.
At present, the team has produced a 36-square-cm battery cell that can meet the needs of electronic skin patches. Equipment from the University of New South Wales can also produce batteries as small as 100 microns to 3 square centimeters through screen printing technology. In the future, the team hopes to continue to optimize engineering and ink formulations to achieve large-scale production of inks, which can increase the current output under low humidity conditions and finally build a demonstration device.