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Swedish researchers closer to a commercial paper battery for smart packaging


BillerudKorsnäs (Solna, Sweden), a world leader in offering the packaging market sustainable materials (specifically paper and board material) and solutions, along with researchers at Uppsala University (Uppsala, Sweden) have together taken an important step towards the future of paper batteries. They’ve teamed up to take basic research based on pure cellulose from algae, and developed it to work with the same type of fibre that BillerudKorsnäs traditionaally uses to manufacture sustainable packaging materials. This development opens the door for both inexpensive and eco-friendly batteries. The eventual aim is to enable large-scale production and the future use of paper batteries for applications in areas such as smart packaging.

Research is already underway in Sweden to produce a paper battery that could have huge implications in the advancement of smart packaging initiatives.

Smart, connected packaging. In the long term, the paper battery opens up tremendous possibilities for developing packaging that’s both smart and much more sustainable. Small paper batteries with sensors can, in the future, facilitate packaging that can be traced through its entireResearch is underway to product a paper battery that could have huge implications in the realm of smart packaging. transport chain. This includes, for example, packaging that measures temperature or position in real time, and provides information on what’s happening with an item during transport. A paper battery entails many new ways of using packaging and can thus offer exciting opportunities for the packaging industry – as well as companies that wish to establish systems that safeguard quality and delivery reliability. For example, a light sensor along with a BillerudKorsnäs paper battery could provide information on where, in the transport chain, a product disappeared from its packaging. With electrodes based on cellulose from wood fibres, the ambition is that in the future, it’ll be possible to recycle batteries along with their boxes and make them into new boxes or paper batteries.

Maria Strömme.
Maria Strömme.

Technology for large-scale production processes. The development work is being carried out by one of Sweden’s foremost research teams under Maria Strömme, collaborating with BillerudKorsnäs as a leading company in the development of sustainable packaging technology, in a completely new form. “What’s special in this case is the model for collaboration between BillerudKorsnäs and Uppsala University that has resulted in technology adapted to large-scale production processes. We’re combining the deep theoretical expertise of the researchers with our understanding of innovation and production technology. By successfully creating a joint platform, we can focus our work on the future, on creating an advanced product that can still be produced in an effective way,” said Lars Sandberg, Project Manager for Innovation at BillerudKorsnäs.

“The paper battery is a key piece of the puzzle in efforts to produce smart packaging that requires small, sustainable power sources,” said Magnus Wikström, Technical Director at BillerudKorsnäs. “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, for example, allows for bio-based batteries that can form part of a circular system, which provides major sustainability benefits.”

This article originally appeared in Graphic Arts Magazine.

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