Technical Brief

In Vitro Zinc-Air Battery Evaluation for Use in Intraoral Medical Devices

[+] Author and Article Information
Miguel Amaral

Faculty of Science and Technology,
Physics Department,
University of Coimbra,
Coimbra 3004-504, Portugal

Francisco do Vale

Faculty of Medicine,
Dentistry Department,
University of Coimbra,
Coimbra 3004-504, Portugal

João Silva

SARKKIS Robotics, Lda,
Rua Pedro Nunes,
Coimbra 3030-199,Portugal

Francisco Caramelo

Faculty of Medicine,
Laboratory of Biostatistics and
Medical Informatics–IBILI,
University of Coimbra,
Coimbra 3004-504, Portugal

Germano Veiga

Campus da FEUP,
Rua Dr. Roberto Frias, 378,
Porto 4200-465, Portugal

Manuscript received September 6, 2013; final manuscript received December 22, 2013; published online January 20, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Jahangir Rastegar.

J. Med. Devices 8(1), 014509 (Jan 20, 2014) (6 pages) Paper No: MED-13-1206; doi: 10.1115/1.4026450 History: Received September 06, 2013; Revised December 22, 2013

The aim of the present work was to evaluate the possibility of using zinc-air batteries in intraoral medical devices. We analyzed the electrical behavior of zinc-air batteries when submitted to different levels of temperature, humidity, and limited quantities of air. The experimental setup was divided in three different parts. Firstly, a set of batteries were tested within a climatic chamber and subjected to discharging tests similar to those recommended by the manufacturer. The climatic chamber allowed an accurate variation of humidity and temperature. Secondly, the batteries were placed in a small prototype of intraoral medical device and tested in the absence of air. Lastly, we used a robot arm to repeatedly immerse the prototype in artificial saliva. The results obtained demonstrated the viability of zinc-air batteries as a power solution for intraoral medical devices, as they tolerate high levels of humidity and are capable of working with limited quantities of air. In addition, this kind of battery presents a volume to electrical capacity ratio more than three times higher than lithium batteries, which may open important improvement for powered medical devices.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
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Fig. 1

Schematic of a zinc/air button cell; water vapor transfer is the dominant form of gas transfer degradation (adapted from Ref. [12])

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Fig. 2

Comparison of energy density for different types of battery systems. Zinc air battery is one of the batteries that have the highest energy density per volume and per weight (adapted from Ref. [13]).

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Fig. 3

Electrical schematic of the test circuit

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Fig. 4

Computer aided design model of the metal holder and the corresponding prototype

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Fig. 5

(left) Experimental robotic setup. (right) Metal battery holder with the Teflon membrane sealed with silicone before the immersion in saliva.

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Fig. 6

Battery voltage in function of time (mean of four batteries). Relativity humidity levels at 50%, 70%, and 90%.

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Fig. 7

Mean battery voltage in function of time for a set of zinc-air batteries placed inside a closed atmosphere

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Fig. 8

Battery electrical behavior after the metal holder was opened

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Fig. 9

Voltage drop (mean of four) of the battery inside the metal holder with the Teflon membrane covering the entrance of air

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Fig. 10

Voltage drop of the battery inside the metal holder submerged in saliva for 20 s in intervals of 2 min



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