Zinc batteries make the news on almost a daily basis and we are taking notice. The latest headline involved a zinc-based wearable that claims to be able to recharge devices on the go. While, most of the breakthroughs are taking place in the lab, these advances are driving the renewable energy revolution.


Flexible, Stretchable and Rechargeable Zinc Batteries


Researchers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first printed zinc battery. Unlike conventional batteries, it is flexible, stretchable and rechargeable. According to an article by Nick Flaherty,

“The key to the technology is a hyper-elastic polymer material made from isoprene, one of the main ingredients in rubber, that was combined with polystyrene to form a material called SIS.”


And that,

“The ink used to print the batteries is made of the zinc silver oxide mixed with SIS, and adding bismuth oxide to the batteries to make them rechargeable.”


Joseph Wang, nanoengineering professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, commented,

“We expect this technology to pave the way to enhance other forms of energy storage and printable, stretchable electronics, not just for zinc-based batteries but also for Lithium-ion batteries, as well as supercapacitors and photovoltaic cells.”

Click here to read Stretchable zinc battery promises self-powered wearables.

The applications for stretchable and more durable batteries is endless. There are many environments where a more durable or thinner battery may be a life saver. Like in most cases in life, one does not gain something without giving up another.

“The prototype battery the researchers developed has about 20% of the capacity of a rechargeable hearing aid battery and takes two cells to power a 3V LED. But it is one tenth the thickness and uses commercially available materials.”

Click here to learn more about what could become one of the world’s thinnest batteries.


Zinc Gaining Momentum in Renewable Energy Revolution


We outlined early commercial applications for zinc batteries in a recent Weekly Volumes titled This Metal Could Crush Fossil Fuels. In addition, the Volume outlined how rechargeable zinc batteries may revolutionize grid-scale energy. Below is a short excerpt:

“Rechargeable zinc batteries may revolutionize how we harness clean energy for transportation; furthermore, this same technology may overcome grid-scale energy storage challenges – the X factor for renewable energy to truly compete with fossil fuels…”


Here is where the science takes over:


“Eleven months ago, in June of 2016, Stanford engineers created arrays of silicon nanocones to trap sunlight and improve the performance of solar cells. At the core of this novel technology is zinc…

In the June 6, 2016 edition of Nature Communications, Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and Shougo Higashi, a visiting scientist from Toyota Central R&D Labs Inc., proposed a new battery design that could help solve the problem of grid-scale energy storage. The study resulted in the creation of a novel battery with electrodes made of zinc and nickel.”


Click here to read This Metal Could Crush Fossil Fuels.


Below is an image of the stretchable shirt that can recharge.

zinc wearables
image source: http://www.eenewseurope.com/news/stretchable-zinc-battery-promises-self-powered-wearables

In conclusion, as engineers and scientists continue to explore with various base metals in renewable energy, practical application will come. Rechargeable zinc batteries could soon be leading the renewable energy revolution before long.