Quantum Leap: Strategic Elements and UNSW create electrical energy from moisture

Strategic Elements and UNSW achieve groundbreaking breakthrough in battery technology as they eye the lucrative market for electronic skin patches.

Innovation Venture Capital Firm Strategic Elements (ASX: SOR) announced a breakthrough in the way electricity is generated for its battery technology by wholly-owned AAM and its research partner, the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Strategic Elements said the engineering of nanoionic materials has created a sea change in the ability to convert moisture in the air into electrical energy.

Successful breakthroughs in its battery technology have demonstrated the potential to increase electrical charging capacity from milliamp-hours (mAh) to amp-hours (Ah).

Strategic Elements said this achievement firmly establishes the technology as a world leader and greatly expands its potential use in electronics with increased power requirements.

Development of the range of amps

The research team began development to implement and validate several technological breakthroughs in a world’s first battery that aims to harvest a range of amp-hours of electrical charge solely from the humidity in the air.

The 36cm2 the cells will be printed on flexible plastic using green, durable and safe materials. Results are expected to be available in the third quarter of FY22.

Sustainable ecological materials

Unlike lithium batteries, Energy Ink uses green and durable materials that are safe and non-flammable.

When printed on flexible plastic, Energy Ink can be bent around structures or even the human body in the form of skin patches.

Trademark applications for Energy Ink™ and Powered by Moisture™ have been registered, while the intellectual property of recent developments has been covered by a patent application.

Large electronic skin patch market

Based on initial results from the upgraded Energy Ink, Strategic Elements believes that the technology profile has exceeded the power output requirements of most existing devices in the electronic skin patch market.

The US$10 billion electronic skin patch market is expected to reach US$30 billion by 2031.

The products are used to provide sports and health information from devices attached to the human body and currently use rigid alkaline batteries or those with lithium materials.

The flexibility characteristics of the technology are measured and validated for use in skin patches.

A technology demonstrator meeting both power and flexibility requirements is under development and should be completed in the third quarter of 2022.

Large battery cell size

Commercial printing equipment can produce small electrical components up to several square meters, and from single sheet production to long continuous runs.

A significant advantage of printed electronics is that components can be manufactured in a roll-to-roll process, which means that a large roll of plastic is fed into the production line instead of individual sheets of plastic, such as newspaper printing.

As a result, very large areas can be produced more cost-effectively, and investigation into the ability to roll the printed Energy Ink material into a tube form is underway.

To date, 36cm2 battery cells suitable for electronic skin patches have been produced. However, UNSW equipment has the capability to screen print items as small as 100 micrometers and as large as 3m2.

Strategic Elements initially increases Energy Ink cell size to 100cm2 to test the impact on power output of larger printed cells. The first results of the cell size survey are expected within the next 4-6 weeks.

From impossible to possible

Strategic Elements CEO Charles Murphy said not too long ago many said it was impossible to produce usable energy from moisture.

“Our team was very skeptical and for us to now realistically target the generation of electrical power in amp-hours solely from humidity in the air is a huge achievement,” Murphy said.

“Our technology does not rely on rare materials and poses no security risks. In addition, it can provide flexibility to electronics.

Murphy said there is an obvious short-term target market in electronic skin patches, but the company is also excited to be clearly in the early stages of testing the fundamental upper limits of this technology.

“The current success is a testament to the strong relationship developed between the company, Professor Dewei Chu and his team at UNSW, developed over years of collaborative e-ink development.”

Powerful collaboration

The federal government has registered Strategic Elements as a common development fund with a mandate to support Australian innovation.

The company operates as a business builder where it generates high-risk, high-reward ventures by recruiting teams of top scientists or innovators.

UNSW has extensive experience in electronic inks, energy harvesting and storage over the past 10 years and applies it to Energy Ink technology.

The UNSW School of Materials Science and Engineering is ranked number 1 in Australia for materials science and has a number of partnerships with leading companies including Boral (ASX:BLD), Hitachi Chemical and One Steel.

UNSW has world-class infrastructure and equipment focused on advanced materials engineering and manufacturing.

This article was developed in conjunction with Strategic Elements, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publication.

This article does not constitute advice on financial products. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.

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