The three-year project involves developing energy storage in fibre structures by finishing cellulose fibres with electrically conductive polymers, ie the storage of electrical energy in a sheet of paper or cardboard.
BillerudKorsnäs is contributing its expertise in industrial production and packaging development alongside professors Maria Strömme and Albert Mihranyan from the Division for Nanotechnology and Functional Materials and professor Leif Nyholm from the Division of Inorganic Chemistry at the Ångström Laboratory.
Magnus Wikström, chief technology officer, BillerudKorsnäs, said the long-term goal is to enable large-scale production and the future use of paper batteries for applications in areas such as smart packaging.
“Tomorrow’s packaging will offer consumers more functions than today. Electrical energy stored in the actual paper material opens up brand new possibilities for creating these functions and we want to explore the conditions for this in collaboration with Uppsala University,” he added.
According to Lars Sandberg, project manager, innovation, BillerudKorsnäs, a paper battery opens up possibilities for developing packaging that is both smart and more sustainable.
For example, packaging that measures temperature or position in real time and provides information on what is happening with an item during transportation.
Or packaging with a light sensor and a paper battery could provide information on where in the transport chain a product disappeared.
Sustainable power sources
With electrodes based on cellulose from wood fibre, the ambition is that, in the future, it will be possible to recycle batteries along with their boxes and make them into new boxes or paper batteries.
“The paper battery is a key piece of the puzzle in efforts to produce smart packaging that requires small, sustainable power sources,” added Sandberg.
By enabling this type of sustainable packaging, the work on the paper battery is fully in line with BillerudKorsnäs’ vision of challenging conventional packaging for a sustainable future.
“Storing energy in paper instead of in lithium batteries allows for bio-based batteries that can form part of a circular system, which provides major sustainability benefits,” added Wikström.