Disney Trades Batteries For Paper Generators

Dennis Faas's picture

Disney has developed a way to use a sheet of paper as a power source, thereby eliminating the need for batteries. The concept is being tested and, if those tests prove successful, the idea could be used to make Disney children's books. But it could also prove useful for a range of gadgets.

The system uses electret, a material that permanently holds an electrical charge. It works with static electricity, but can be compared to a magnet.

Teflon, more commonly associated with non-stick cookware, is an electret material. If you rub Teflon against paper, it creates an opposing electrical charge in the paper.

The Disney technique works by building the Teflon into the paper itself, along with a conductive material to control where the power source goes.

Silver Plus Teflon Plus Paper Equals Power

One prototype of the system involves polyester coated in silver being put into the paper in a particular shape, such as a face. Rubbing the paper, either manually or using a button, causes the polyester to touch the Teflon.

That charges the polyester and allows it to light LEDs, thus "switching on" the display of the face.

A more refined version uses a special conductive ink. Both the ink and the paper work in a normal ink-based computer printer, making it possible to print any design and have it light up at your child's fingertips without any batteries.

This could allow for the design of a book in which certain scenes or solutions to puzzles are hidden until the child activates the charge.

Book Lovers Could Power Own E-Reader

In the long-term, the technology could be scaled up and applied to a wide range of uses. One possibility is that the act of "turning a page" on an electronic reading device could provide enough power to display the new page so that the device doesn't require a battery. (Source: ubergizmo.com)

Disney says the main advantage of the system is that the charge it creates is more powerful than a small portable battery, although it doesn't persist for as long.

It could be ideal for devices that don't need to run permanently, such as smaller devices where space is an issue. (Source: fastcodesign.com)

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