Japan’s organic cotton battery

Signal of change / Japan’s organic cotton battery

By Harriet Trefusis / 20 Jan 2015

Power Japan Plus has developed a powerful, cotton-based battery with numerous potential uses, including for electric cars. It comprises a ‘dual carbon complex’: carbon from organic cotton restructured so that the carbon fibres act as anodes and cathodes inside an organic electrolyte conducting liquid. It permits separate current flow in the battery, for the positive and negative ions. There is no active ingredient other than cotton, which has considerable implications for the sustainability of the battery: it is both renewable and biodegradable. It can also be recharged over 3000 times. 

The battery was designed by Professor Tatsumi Ishihara and Dr. Kaname Takeya at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, who drew on a previous Japanese invention from the 1970s, which was never taken forward. Since the inception, a pilot production line has been begun and there are plans to begin manufacturing large quantities of between 500 to 5,000 batteries a month. 

Power Japan Plus has formed a partnership with Team TAISAN, a Japanese racing team, and will trial the new technology in electric cars. Power Japan Plus was awarded ‘Best Company for Sustainability’ at the IAIR Awards for Excellence in Global Economy and Sustainability, 2014. 

Photo credit: Power Japan Plus

So what?

The battery’s many advantages include cost, safety, durability, reliability, power duration and speed of charging compared with alternatives – in particular lithium ion batteries. It is also reported to be safer than conventional batteries as it maintains a constant temperature during use, and so doesn’t require an energy-draining cooling system. It charges significantly faster than traditional batteries and, if used in electric cars, could allow a range of up to 300 miles. What’s more, it is 100% recyclable.

The carbon complex technology has potential applications in other sectors, such as healthcare and heating. If the technology becomes widespread, there could be important implications for the cultivation and trade of cotton. Will we see energy and textile companies team up to secure a sustainable supply?



What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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