Future Computers Can Work With Liquid Fuel

Researchers from ETH Zurich and IBM Zurich were able to make small redox flow batteries that could be stacked as chips to the chips. This battery type that can be stacked on computer chips can be used for both electric power and cooling. In flow batteries, the liquid pumped from two different electrolytes produces a cycle of electricity in the battery cell. These chips were effectively operated with liquid fuel and produced their own electricity, says ETH Zurich's Thermodynamics. Dimos Poulikakos. Scientists used two liquid chemicals that could be suitable for flow batteries and media. Thus, both the effective cooling and the excess heat that may occur on the same device can be removed. The produced battery is only 1.5 mm thick, thin enough to be placed in chips. This thin layer will both generate electricity and cool the chip.
Record Power Output
Earlier flow batteries were larger in diameter because they were used to store energy in wind or solar power plants. Scientists have produced such a small flow cell for the first time.

The flow produced by the new micro-battery is so high that it will record a recordable size of 1.4 watts per cm2. Even if we take into account the power of the electrolyte pumps, it has a power density of 1 watt at cm2. It also seems to be able to eliminate the majority of the heat lost during a battery's electricity generation.
Channel System Optimized with 3D Printer According to scientists, the biggest challenge in producing new micro-flow batteries was to design the structure of micro-flow batteries that would allow the electrolytes to be pumped quickly and consumed as little power as possible. The electrochemical reactions that take place in the battery are separated by a membrane and occur in two thin and porous electrode layers. Using 3D printing technology, Marschewski and his colleagues produced a polymer channel in which the electrolyte liquid could be printed. Thus, the electrolyte can be pushed into porous electrode layers. Many shapes have been tried, and the shape of the wedge has proven obsolete. The first evidenced concept was a small flow cell. Although the power density of the micro-flow battery is high, it still cannot generate enough electricity to operate the computer chip. Hence the stacking needs to be optimized by industrial partners to make the chip. Flow batteries can be used in many systems, from solar cells to electric vehicles. These systems can be developed with this new approach. Even though the flow batteries are like fuel cells, they can be charged with a great advantage. But the only disadvantage of flow batteries is that they need a pump to pump electrolytes.
Research Reference: Julian Marschewski et al, 3D-printed fluidic networks, high-power-density heat-managing miniaturized redox flow batteries, Energy Environ. Sci. (2017). DOI: 10.1039 / c6ee03192g


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