3D printer produces Swiss compostable battery

Unlike conventional batteries, this biodegradable version will not leave behind hazardous materials when it is thrown away. Gian Vaitl

Swiss scientists have developed a biodegradable battery that can be thrown into the compost after use.

This content was published on June 3, 2021

The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) used a 3D printer to produce the battery made from carbon, cellulose, glycerin and table salt.

Researchers combined all the ingredients into a gelatinous ink that was discharged from the printer into four layers that form the battery.

The prototype can store enough energy to run a digital clock for several hours, said EMPA in a press releaseExternal link. It is also robust enough to withstand thousands of charges, storage in freezing temperatures and is described as resistant to pressure and shock.

“Best of all, though, when you no longer need it, you could toss it in the compost or simply leave it in nature. After two months, the capacitor will have disintegrated, leaving only a few visible carbon particles,” read the statement.

One potential use case for such batteries is to power Internet of Things (IoT) components such as sensors or microtransmitters. Such systems have a range of uses, including logistics, agriculture and environmental monitoring.

The EMPA team also expects increasing demand for electronic microdevices in the healthcare sector. “Small test devices for use at the bedside or self-testing devices for diabetics are among them.”

The biodegradable nature of the invention would also solve the environmental problem posed by batteries that leak hazardous material into the soil and water systems if not disposed of properly.

Several other research teams worldwide are also exploring ways of producing biodegradable batteries and some earlier prototypes have already been developed.

Articles in this story

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.