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Advanced Materials
graphic showing the components of the conformal battery

Don’t Let the Battery be the Boss

Posted by Battelle Insider on Feb 1, 2018

Why is your watch shaped the way it is? Why does your car have the shape it has? What about your cell phone, power tools or laptop? The same question could be asked of just about anything. But if it’s a device that contains a battery, the answer will be the same each time: to accommodate the battery.

Until recently, batteries needed an outer packaging to work correctly and ensure safety. That packaging typically makes up 20 percent or more of the battery weight. 

Battelle has found a way to eliminate the outer packaging. 

Our patented conformal battery is a mirrored stack design centered on a dual-sided anode. From the anode moving outward is the safety separator, cathode and outer containment layer. 

By eliminating the mass and volume associated with the outer packaging, the battery is lighter. And removing the packaging and using an advanced separator allows the battery to have a thinner profile and be formed into different shapes. 

graphic showing the various components of the conformal battery

What does that mean for consumers? The products we use every day could be changing. 

Battelle started down the conformal battery path after being asked by a military client to find a way to incorporate batteries into the structure of objects. Think about how much weight could be reduced and space freed up if a battery was part of the floor or doors of a vehicle. 

But the only way to accomplish that was to rethink the science behind a traditional battery. And that’s what Battelle did. 

After successfully coming up with a solution to the original challenge, we began to look at other ways a conformal battery would provide benefit. For example, electric vehicles are becoming more popular. The design of that type of vehicle is driven by battery. But if you can distribute that battery into other components of the car, you are opening up the design potential. 

The impact of a conformal battery might be more noticeable in smaller, everyday items, such as a cordless drill. Anyone who has a cordless drill, knows a huge chunk of the weight is made up with the large battery pack. But if you can incorporate the battery somewhere else, you’ve made that device much lighter and user friendly. 

The conformal battery is a designer’s dream and will likely play a big role in changing the way products are created. And industry has taken notice. To demonstrate how this technology could impact products, Battelle’s human centric design team created a series of product concepts that depicted how the conformal battery technology would revolutionize the design of several existing products.  These concepts won Battelle a Create the Future award from Tech Briefs in 2017 for our innovation. 

Learn more about Battelle’s advanced materials capabilities and human centric design expertise




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