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Monday, March 1, 2010

Paper Battery Company previews game-changing technology at Cleantech Forum

The Paper Battery Co. is a NYSERDA - Clean Tech Center portfolio company based in Upstate New York.

Paper Battery Co. hints about its tech at Cleantech Forum in San Francisco
February 26, 2010 - by Dallas Kachan, Cleantech Group

In the halls of the Cleantech Forum today in San Francisco, a startup stealthily described its new paper-based battery. What if building materials could also serve as electrical storage?

If the New York-based Paper Battery Company gets its way, builders could potentially use its new prototype paper-based battery material in much the same way builders use Tyvek-branded DuPont plastic as a moisture wrap in building construction.

Buildings themselves, in theory, could then serve as high capacity batteries, according to the company, the storage integrated into the walls, taking up no extra space.

"An average sized lined roof could charge an electric car overnight and supply an average home with its power for the evening," said Shreefal Mehta, CEO of the Paper Battery Co., pointing out the material has fast charge capability.

Once charged, the company's foldable, paper-based battery material could hold a respectable 20-30 watt hours (i.e. enough to power a 30 watt light bulb for an hour) per square meter, according to Mehta's initial calculations, who noted actual performance would be subject to many variables.

The Paper Battery Company is developing energy storage sheets that leverage supercapacitor technology and economies of roll-to-roll printing processes to produce a flexible, scalable ‘battery’ with fast recharge and a long cycle life, Mehta said in an interview at the Cleantech Forum XVII in San Francisco, which concluded today.

While incorporating supercapacitor-like design, the paper shouldn't really be considered a supercapacitor, clarified Mehta.

"The technology incorporates printable metal ink, leveraging advances from the last five years in e-ink, RFID and silvering," he said.

"We're doing innovative design, not materials."

Mehta said the company was inspired by research performed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2007, which applied carbon nanotube material to cellulose, the major component in regular paper. The Paper Battery Company also uses cellulose as a substrate.

Mehta says the company's fault tolerant sheets enable the ubiquitous storage and delivery of electrical energy with a vanishing footprint, by distributing energy storage into existing structures, from portable device casings to building integrated energy storage solutions.

Applications in which lead acid batteries would be replaced were initial markets the company would pursue, according to Mehta.

Other possible applications included medical devices, given the fast charge nature of the compound. Some paper battery prototype chemistries have also not contained any toxic materials and can be biodegradable, which is also attractive to the medical community, yet a major drawback of conventional chemical cells.

The company was formed in August 2008 and is actively prototyping. It was unable to share any information about product pricing, although the nanotube-based material at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was described as relatively expensive to fabricate at the time.

The Paper Battery Company is funded by angel investors and is in the process of closing an initial venture round from an unnamed investor. It also received $250,000 last week from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), according to an announcement on its placeholder website.

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