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06. Safe fragrances
05. DNA mass information store
04. Garden mounds for permaculture
03. Silver as high-tech material
02. Micro needle transmits medications and light
01. Electricity storage in gravity systems

12. An eye on space hazards
11. Water purification through freezing
10. Solar shingles
09. Trinary code
08. Vegetation-based battery materials
07. Indoor position location
06. The interface industry
05. Hypersonic aircraft
04. Re-usable glass packaging
03. Vein patterns as personal ID
02. Magnet making bacteria
01. Ultra-light solids

12. Ultrasound in water
11. Projected touchscreen
10. Electric airplane
08. Glass hard disc
04. Nuclear hazard
03. Clearing “sewer soap”
02. Water harvesting
01. Tea bag size personal water filter

12. Human powered water transport
11. The Technium
08. Bio-remediation of oil spills
07. Cleaner coal
05. Oil spill remediation
04. Solar towers
03. Brain-computer
02. Biodiesel producing bacteria
01. Hydrogen producing bacteria

12. Levitating living organisms
11. A new blue
10. Polymer magnets
09. Electric vehicle batteries
08. Implantable cancer monitors
07. Algal biofuel
06. Geo-Thermal Heat Pump
05. Battery powered roadster
04. Fenestration
03. Text to voice
02. Implantable ID chips
01. Air cleansing building material

12. ebooks
11. Energy Harvesting
10. Private space-flights
09. Virus identification chip
08. Bio-fuels
07. Electronic financial trading
06. Bio-remediation
05. New tech agriculture
04. Manufactured Hotels
03. Magnetic Induction
02. Genetic Vaults
01. Solid-state lighting

12 Bacteria in agriculture and industry
11. Blue revolution
10. Electronic nose
09. Nuclear sarcophagus
08. Shape shifting technology
07. Thought activated technology
06. Green is cool - make me look green
05. Electronic 'drugs'
04. Super-canals and super-ships
03. Environmentally friendly technology: greens versus grays
02. Agriculture: food,fiber and fuel
01. FPGA floating-point performance surpasses microprocessor

08. Energy sources for electricity compete
07. Universal interface (UI)
06. Magnetic levitation
05. Light pipes
04. Storage of electricity
03. Automotive engines
02. Molecular assembly
01. Introducing Technoscan Newsbriefs

Vol. 7, No. 8, August 31, 2012
ISSN 1932-3018

Vegetation-based battery materials
Positioning this technology in the
Functionality Grid
Reformatted from: Van Wyk, Rias J: Technology - A Unifying Code, 2004, SMG, Cape Town, p.34. Based on: Ropohl, Gunter: Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 1979, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich and Vienna, p.178.
This Newsbrief deals with a new approach to battery components - the use of materials that are derived from plants and that are environmentally absorbed after use. In terms of the Atlas of Technology it is concerned with the storage of energy (E).
The increased reliance on renewable sources of energy has emphasized the need for better batteries to cope with variable energy supplies.
A recent article by Milczarek, G. and Inganäs, O. (2012) "Renewable Cathode Materials from Biopolymer/Conjugated Polymer Interpenetrating Networks" Science, Vol. 335, March 23, pp. 1468 - 1471, focuses on batteries that:
  • Have a high performance level
  • Use vegetation based polymers as cathodes
  • Can be absorbed by the environment when retired
Present battery designs rely much on inorganic materials. Some of these are scarce with unsure sources of supply. Some, because of their toxicity, pose environmental problems when retired. The use of polymers was researched about two decades ago but was discontinued because of inadequate energy storage densities.
The emphasis of recent research has been on "Combining cellulose materials and conjugated polymers for charge storage" where the cellulose only is used as structural material. The new focus is on the other big polymer, lignin, that makes up approximately 20 to 28 percent of wood. It is freely available in the waste material from paper mills. A useful functional performance metric (FPM) is charge density measured in milliamp hours per cubic centimeter. A density of 100 mAh/cm3 was reported - a respectable level for early research.
On the NASA nine point scale of technology readiness levels (TRLs), this technology is at level 3.

Technology explorers should anticipate further research on other sources of lignin accompanied by additional advances in performance.

© Rias J. van Wyk, 2013. Editor.