Time was when the choice of printed and semi printed batteries was limited to the Manganese dioxide Zinc "cheap and cheerful" structures of Power Paper and its licensees and the higher performance, higher price lithium batteries of Solicore and others. The Manganese dioxide Zinc products are now seen in talking gift cards and in time temperature recording labels, for example. The lithium batteries have been used in military devices and some time temperature recorders. There is some pressure to recycle the lithium and this has impeded rollouts in some cases.
Carbon zinc as the compromise
In between, we now have carbon zinc batteries printed reel to reel by Thin Battery Technologies. These have a wider operating range than manganese dioxide zinc of -30C to 50C. This opens up many possibilities in active RFID which is mainly based on coin cell batteries today, as we know from the car clicker, immobilizer in our pocket. The TBT cell is intimately aligned over the RFID antenna while others using metal encasement, e.g. coin cell or PLIB, use a larger footprint to accommodate the separation of battery and antenna.
For example, as first announced at the IDTechEx Smart Labels USA conference in Boston last month, Sealed Air's Cryovac Food Packaging Division has selected the TBT battery as the battery of choice for its new RFID temperature-monitoring system. Cryovac is a division of Sealed Air Corporation (NYSE:SEE).
"We are very excited about this development because it validates both our high performance thin printed battery technology and our ability to supply large production volumes at an affordable cost," commented Gary Johnson, TBT's CEO
Tolerance of cold
TBT was selected over other available solutions following a rigorous trial period. Len Allison, TBT President, commented, "Cryovac has conducted extensive testing to ensure their product will perform in extreme cold-chain climates, and TBT uniquely met the power requirements at those extremes."
The Cryovac TurboTag™ T-700 tag is a datalogger that is used to periodically record the temperature of sensitive materials such as food, blood, pharmaceuticals, and specialty chemicals during shipping. The TurboTag™ combines environmental sensing with RFID functionality. The application demands special power requirements that TBT uniquely provides including form-factor, RF translucency, tag reusability, environmental friendliness, minimal heat retention, and reliable performance at -30°C in arid climates.
Enormous markets await
IDTechEx believes that there is a place for all three battery technologies but lithium based structures may have the lesser potential as long as flammability and environmental concerns pertain, however unreasonable these may be. There is great scope for someone to develop environmental batteries with long shelf life, large power capacity, fast power delivery and price of no more than 50 cents in high volume - say hundreds of millions. These would not compete with the existing technologies: rather they would open up yet more new markets. The world awaits - from the need for billions of smart skin patches to trillions of self adjusting use by dates every year.