Printing Green Batteries with Enfucell
In a previous article, we highlighted printed electronics company PragmatIC Printing and their ability to produce sub-micron transistors on various flexible substrates. We also highlighted Blue Spark Technologies which produces flexible batteries and helped PragmatIC produce a flexible timer which they debuted at the recent IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe event that was held in Berlin. Another company, Enfucell, produces eco-friendly printed batteries and has also partnered with PragmatIC.
Founded in 2002, Finnish company Enfucell was spun out of the Helsinki University of Technology and had raised around $10 million in funding as of January 2012. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, former CEO and President of Nokia Corporation, is an angel investor and advisor for Enfucell. The privately held company has locations in Finland, the U.S., France, and the U.K. with the first commercial deliveries of their batteries taking place in 2010. Enfucell has a license-based business model with licensees currently in China, UK, USA, and Spain.
According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the thin film and printed battery market was worth $181.5 million in 2012 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46.14% from 2012 to 2017, reaching a net value of $1.21 billion by 2017. Both Enfucell and Blue Spark Technologies are listed in the same report as “major players” in the flexible battery market.
Enfucell’s non-rechargeable soft battery line contains no heavy metals or toxic materials and comes in various voltages (1.5, 3, 4.5, and 6 volts). While a typical 1.5 volt AA battery is heavy and bulky, a standard 1.5 volt Softbattery is as thin as a business card and roughly the size of a nicotine patch. It has a minimum shelf life of 2 years and weighs just .10 ounces. The battery system is based on Zinc, Manganese Dioxide, and Zinc-chlorite and is manufactured with high volume screen printing and lamination equipment as seen below:
The company is initially targeting the areas of pharmaceuticals & cosmetics, RFID & microsensors, and “functional packaging”. One pharmaceutical application the Softbattery can be used for is to power disposable iontophoresis devices which can “enhance the delivery of active ingredients through skin up to 1000 times”. Enfucell released their new “SoftBattery® Plus Technology” last month which has about a 50% reduction in internal resistance resulting in higher peak currents and longer battery life compared to the conventional SoftBattery®. Earlier this year, Xymox Technologies began manufacturing and selling the Enfucell SoftBattery® in North America.
The same MarketsandMarkets report lists a total of 8 major players in this market so Enfucell is not alone. However, the company seems to be making good progress towards commercializing their technology and have seemed to overcome what they believe is the number one challenge facing printed electronics; integrated mass manufacturing.
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