by Kable Young
Renewable energy is a topic of paramount importance in this day and age. Typically, one does not consider the paper industry when exploring advancements in the energy field. However, Dr. Seokhen Choi, a professor at Binghamton University in New York, has recently developed a battery constructed out of paper. This in and of itself is quite an accomplishment, but he took his design one step further when he integrated the Japanese art of orgami to create compact and stackable three dimensional shapes.
The battery that Dr. Choi created uses microbial respiration from bacteria in dirty water. The idea is that these paper batteries can be utilized in areas where resources and access to electricity are scarce. Also, any organic material can be the source of the bacteria necessary for the metabolic reaction to occur. Furthermore, there is no need for a pump or syringe for the metabolic reaction because the paper naturally absorbs the liquid using capillary force. The battery can be folded down to the size of a matchbook and stacked to create a larger electrical charge. One would think that such a battery would be rather costly; however, the cost of creating these batteries is only five cents. The key to such inexpensive production is using an air-breathing cathode made of liquid nickel. Although the project is still in its infancy, Dr. Choi has received a three-year grant from the United States National Science Foundation to continue his research and advance the initial concept even further. Dr. Choi’s research and innovation is just one example of how the paper industry is taking a step closer to solving the renewable energy crisis that is faced today.