Audience award for safe button cell battery

It is many a parent’s nightmare: a swallowed button cell battery from a toy, car key or LED candle. After all, these easily get stuck in the throat. The mucus then conducts the electricity and that dissolves the tissue so that a hole burns in it. A picture of what such a battery does to a slice of ham is on Linkedin as an illustration.

Last summer, TU researchers Marnix Wagemaker and Frans Ooms (Faculty Applied Sciences) announced that they had developed a solution together with heart-lung surgeon Tjark Ebels (UMC Groningen). Namely a circuit that stops the current when the cell is swallowed. How that would work, Wagemaker explained to the Dutch science magazine KIJK (‘Look’, September 2023)

On Thursday 7 December, the KIJK jury handed out the prizes for the best tech idea of 2023 (in Dutch). The audience award went to Frans Ooms and Tjark Ebels for their safe button cell battery.  The expert jury chose the iron battery from Team Solid of TU Eindhoven.

The invention of the safe button cell battery has been patented but not yet applied. ‘Now it is important to ensure that these solutions can be integrated small and cheaply into button cells in order to prevent terrible consequences in the future,’ Wagemaker said about this in KIJK. Until then, parents would do well to take button cell batteries away immediately and not keep them in a jar at home.

KIJK-editors Laurien Onderwater (left) and Naomi Vreeburg hand over the public award 2023 to Frans Ooms and Tjark Ebels in a lab at the Reactor Institute Delft. (Photo: KIJK)

Science editor Jos Wassink

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