UBC developed a stretchable battery that can survive the spin cycle

Dec 10 2021, 3:36 am

Scientists at UBC have cooked up what could be the first battery that can both flex, and be washed.

While it can survive the laundry, it can also be twisted or stretched to twice its length.

The innovation could be a game changer for wearable electronics like smart watches and other devices that are growing in popularity.

The technology was developed by Dr. Ngoc Tan Nguyen who is a postdoctoral fellow at the UBC faculty of applied science.

Stretchable batteries are not an entirely new concept, but this would be the first battery that can also survive water.

How’d they do it?

Kai Jacobson/UBC

The team at UBC made some adjustments to the key compounds used in the battery. Those compounds were zinc and manganese dioxide. To make them stretchable, the team grinded these components into small pieces, and then embedded them into a rubbery plastic.

Due to the way the different layers are put together, it creates a waterproof seal.

To test this, team member Bahar Iranpour suggested throwing the battery into the wash. It has been able to survive 39 wash cycles so far.

“We put our prototypes through an actual laundry cycle in both home and commercial-grade washing machines. They came out intact and functional and that’s how we know this battery is truly resilient,” said Iranpour in a statement.

They chose zinc-manganese because it’s apparently safer for the skin than lithium-ion batteries.

Possible implementations and cost?

Kai Jacobson/UBC

On top of things like watches and patches for measuring vital signs, the battery could theoretically also be integrated into clothing that can actively change colour or temperature.

According to UBC, the innovation has already garnered commercial interest. The team also suggests that it’ll cost the same amount as an ordinary rechargeable battery, which is thanks in part to the cost of the materials they used.

Check out UBC’s full story on this crazy new technology here.

Amir AliAmir Ali

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