Robots multiply their autonomy thanks to batteries that replicate animal fat - MUNDO APLI


miércoles, 6 de abril de 2022

Robots multiply their autonomy thanks to batteries that replicate animal fat

 Robots will use animal fat.

As bad press as it may be, body fat fulfills an important evolutionary function: accumulating energy reserves for moments of scarcity and cushioning possible blows. Unlike robots, humans and other animals do not store their energy in a specific compartment, but rather distribute it to various areas of the body. Otherwise, we would have to carry a sack of fat, which would be very inefficient when it comes to transforming it into energy. And maybe a little unsightly.

Instead, the machines must incorporate a specific dedicated load, which increases the weight and size of the structure, occupying a fifth of its space. However, an innovative technological project could change that substantially.

At the University of Michigan they have developed batteries that they have baptized as "biomorphic" and that mimic the body fat of animals. This technology, based on zinc instead of lithium, is more efficient, since it fulfills a double function: as a protective structure or shell and as an energy store.

In the experiments they have carried out, the new structural batteries have generated up to 72 times more energy than a conventional lithium battery. In technical terms, the new batteries work by transmitting hydroxide ions from a zinc electrode through a network of aramid nanofibers, which are used to make Kevlar, and a water-based polymer gel. In this case, the gel is responsible for conducting the ions from one electrode to another.

One of the advantages of this innovative technology is that the materials used are cheap, abundant and, for the most part, non-toxic. In fact, it would be possible to recycle Kevlar protective vests to make these new devices. In addition, neither the gel nor the fibers are flammable, which reduces the danger of fires and explosions to which the lithium versions are exposed. Although not all are advantages: zinc batteries begin to degrade after one hundred charge cycles, a fifth of the cycles offered by lithium batteries to date.

In any case, if this obstacle is overcome, the high density of the new batteries and their low price make them ideal candidates for robots that require greater autonomy, such as drones or vehicles that work in warehouses or in delivery. parcel. In addition, they could have interesting applications in the field of microscopic and flexible robots, which will require more imaginative energy solutions than the cumbersome batteries of a lifetime. Although, perhaps, one day even robots will have to go on a diet.

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