Ukrainian volunteers have started using e-cigarette batteries to help power drones deployed in the war against Russia, according to a report in The Independent.
The batteries are being used to power release systems attached to drones so that they can carry and drop anything from medical supplies to grenades. The release systems are built using 3D printers.
The initiative was developed in response to the rising price of lithium batteries. War-related airport closures have driven up the cost of many imports. To collect disposable e-cigarettes and retrieve lithium polymer batteries, the volunteers set up drop-off bins outside the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute
“Lithium batteries used to cost $1 each but went up five times in price adding significantly to our costs,” says engineer and PhD student Maksym Sheremet. “So we started powering dropping systems from the batteries in disposable e-cigarettes. It’s free, easy to repurpose and environmentally friendly because we are recycling.”
A team of around 60 volunteers are making the drone systems, with 30 working specifically on the e-cigarette plan.
In four months they have built 4,000 dropping systems – which cost under $30 – and are sent to the front. They are also building drones from scratch and repurposing existing commercial drones to go with their dropping systems.
Seriously outgunned by Russia, Ukraine relies heavily on drones, which allow its forces to spot artillery and so direct fire efficiently, saving ammunition.