Screen-printed batteries developed for renewable energy

Ultra-thin, flexible screen-printed batteries have been developed for cheap portable devices and intermittent renewable energy.

The batteries are close to becoming a reality thanks to a joint UNSW-University of Queensland project to further develop technology by battery energy storage firm Printed Energy and bring it to market.

Backed by the energy innovator and philanthropist Trevor St Baker, founder of ERM Power and creator of the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund, Printed Energy is a Brisbane company with patented technologies in printing batteries and photovoltaics and a laboratory in Arizona focused on energy storage and materials science.

The $12 million project received a grant worth $2 million from the Cooperative Research Centres Projects scheme of $2 million, which will allow the partners – including Sunset Power International and Sonovia Holdings – to accelerate the technology.

Printed Energy’s solid-state batteries are a thin, flexible format – printed in a roll-to-roll process like a newspaper – that can be adapted to almost any shape.

It has potential applications in powering everything from disposable medical devices, smart cards and wearable electronics to large-scale solar panels and energy storage.

“The highly innovative and unique nature of this technology makes it ideal for powering sensors, devices for the Internet or Things (IoT), disposable healthcare devices and eventually, even for large-scale application to help manage the intermittent nature of electricity generated by solar panels,” CEO of Printed Energy and the St Baker Energy Innovation Fund Rodger Whitby said.

UNSW Dean of Engineering Mark Hoffman said storage has been the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to renewable energy.

“The world is crying out for storage solutions, and this partnership has the potential to deliver on that urgent need,” Mr Hoffman said.

“What’s exciting is that this technology also has immediate applications in wearables and small-scale devices.”

First applications of the technology will be in small-scale devices, with development work in large-scale uses to be explored by the partners over the next three years, relying on Printed Energy’s proprietary designs.