A new type of easily recyclable battery based around the use of renewable organic biomaterials derived from alfalfa (lucerne seed) and pine resin has been developed by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. The battery recycling requires low energy inputs, and can be done with non-hazardous chemicals.
The researchers behind the new battery designed it with the intention of circumventing some of the environmental issues surrounding the use of modern lithium-ion batteries.
The most prominent of these issues is the relatively rare nature of many of the materials currently used to make lithium-ion batteries, as well as the great difficulty/cost in recovering these materials from their incorporated whole. Even when these costly recovery processes are economically viable, they often require toxic chemicals, and a lot of electricity/energy. The new battery aims to bypass all of these issues.
“We think our discovery can open several doors to more environment-friendly, energy-efficient solutions for the batteries of the future,” states researcher Daniel Brandell, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University.
The press release from Uppsala University provides more:
In their latest study, researchers at Uppsala University’s Ångström Laboratory have developed a whole new battery concept. The battery is based on recovery and renewable biological material with an energy content corresponding to that of current lithium-ion batteries. Components of the battery are made of renewable organic biomaterials from alfalfa and pine resin, and can be recycled with a low energy input and non-hazardous chemicals, such as ethanol and water.
Although present-day batteries contain non-renewable inorganic materials, this is not the first time batteries composed of renewable materials have been presented. But the recycling and recovery strategy is a wholly new concept. Constructing a new battery from a spent one is also feasible. In other words, a straightforward process enables it to be reused.
The scientists have shown that the lithium extracted from a spent battery can be used for a new battery: all that needs to be added is more biomaterial. Their battery proved capable of delivering as much as 99% of the energy output from the first. With future modifications, this figure can very probably become even higher, say the researchers.
Daniel Brandell continues: “The use of organic materials from renewable sources makes it possible to solve several of the problems that would arise from a huge rise in the use of lithium batteries. But above all, it’s a major step forward that, to a high degree and in a simple, environment-friendly way, the lithium from these batteries can be recovered. These solutions are also potentially very cost-effective.”
The new findings are detailed in a paper soon-to-be-published in the journal ChemSusChem.
Image Credit: Daniel Brandell
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