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Technology

Nippon Paper develops wood-pulp battery for drones and phones

Japan company's innovation might help quench demand for rare earths

Cellulose nanofibers are mainly used as additives in products such as snacks and shampoos now, but Nippon Paper managed to use them to light a small 3-volt bulb for several seconds. (Source photos by Takesaburo Takahashi, Masahito Minowa)

TOKYO -- A leading Japanese paper producer has successfully lit an electric bulb with a battery made of wood pulp, shedding light on a future in which the use of drones, smartphones and electric vehicles will not lead to the depletion of rare metals.

The bulb remained lit for 7 seconds or so in the latest experiment, but Nippon Paper Industries expects to be able to increase the battery's capacity to the extent that it will be able to power drones in fiscal 2023, then smartphones and other devices by fiscal 2030.

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