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Energy Storage

Published on July 9th, 2012 | by Nicholas Brown


Spray-On Lithium-Ion Batteries Can Turn Any Surface Into a Battery

July 9th, 2012 by  

Rice University researchers have developed an unusual type of lithium-ion battery. It is a liquid that can be painted or sprayed onto any surface.

Spray-Painted Li-ion Battery Diagram.

The research team mixed various paints to determine which were best for the construction of the 5-layered components of a lithium-ion battery. Those components are:

  • Two current collectors
  • Cathode
  • Anode
  • Electrolyte/Separator which allows lithium ions to pass through it
After finding the correct materials, the batteries were then sprayed onto surfaces such as glass, flexible plastic, stainless steel, ceramic tiles, and even a beer stein to determine how they would bond to the surfaces.

“In the first experiment, nine bathroom tile-based batteries were connected in parallel. One was topped with a solar cell that converted power from a white laboratory light,” according to Rice University. “When fully charged by both the solar panel and house current, the batteries alone powered a set of light-emitting diodes that spelled out ‘RICE’ for six hours; the batteries provided a steady 2.4 volts.”

The batteries worked and with a consistent capacity, but they also survived 60 charge cycles. which caused only minor deterioration.



While most people don’t need to spray batteries onto surfaces, this is still a step in the right direction, because manufacturers can now easily integrate lithium-ion batteries into any device of any shape.

A patent has been filed for this new technology. However, as is the case with most new technologies, this cleantech battery option requires much more research and development.

Source: TreeHugger
Photo Credit: Neelam Singh/Rice University

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is: Kompulsa.com.

  • Power computing can tell us a lot about what is likely to happen
    the energy. The industry started with centralised mainframes in the 60s. In the
    80s computing was decentralised with the invention of laptops and desktops.
    Further recentralisation occurred when smart phones appeared post 2000.


    Post 2010, computing has become centralised again, moving into the


    Energy has been struck in the 60s where computing was –
    centralised.  Only now is innovation
    moving us to decentralisation of energy. The trouble is with clean tech
    solutions like wind and solar, is they require additional infrastructure to be
    built and maintained. Retrospectively fitting these solutions to buildings is
    expensive and requires customisation and consultants.


    If we are going to make energy as free and easy to harness as the
    air around us, it has to be as simple as paint in a tin. It shouldn’t require
    expensive consultants or infrastructure. With little know-how, any person
    should be able to turn their home into an energy source.


    The Economist published a story a few months ago. A paint
    manufacturer created a paint that when applied to a structure, could map that
    structure’s location and 3D form back to the cloud using a medical-imaging technique called electrical-impedance


    Great product for ships and structures residing in remote areas.
    Most importantly it’s cheap, and anyone can apply it.


    We need to make energy that simple. If it doesn’t come in a tin
    that any unskilled person can paint on a wall, it won’t work. We did a piece
    that looks at how the future is simple. http://goo.gl/5MR61

    • Paint on solar is in development, but not sure if it will ever compete with conventional solar. We’ll see.

      That said, plug&play solar is starting to pick up. That very well could be the future of solar.

      Of course, that means fewer jobs…

      • It certainly will mean less jobs. Up side is the decrease in price.

        That goes for any kind of innovation.  Innovation targets inefficiency – one of the most inefficient parts of any value chain is humans.Every time a disruptive innovation is unleashed, employees are ejected from the value chain. Then they have to ‘reinvent themselves’ fast, and scramble back.

  • Pingback: Energy Efficient LED Lighting Could Be Sprayed on Ppaer()

  • Scienceguyorg

    If only a cheaper method could be perfected to manufacture lithium batteries.  The lithium polymer batteries have almost made the alcohol type model airplane engines obsolete along with the brushless motors. The power to weight ratio is amazing.  

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