Present-day lithium batteries are efficient but involve a range of resource and environmental problems. Using materials from alfalfa (lucerne seed) and pine resin and a clever recycling strategy, Uppsala researchers have now come up with a highly interesting alternative. Their study will be presented soon in the scientific journal ChemSusChem.
'We think our discovery can open several doors to more environment-friendly, energy-efficient solutions for the batteries of the future,' says Daniel Brandell, Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, Uppsala University, one of the researchers behind the idea.
Lithium-ion batteries are, thanks to their high energy content, highly promising for various products — not least, electric vehicles or large-scale energy storage in the electricity grid — in the future energy system. But present-day lithium batteries entail a number of resource-related and environmental problems.
For a start, the world's commercially extractable lithium resources are limited and whether they can meet future needs is unclear. Moreover, it is very difficult to recover lithium from the inorganic materials used to make modern batteries. What is more, lithium batteries contain other, even rarer materials that are hard to replace and require large energy inputs and toxic chemicals for the recovery process.
In the 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 adds: '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 research team also includes Professor Kristina Edström, who heads battery research at Uppsala University, and researcher Stéven Renault. (Photographer: Anders Lund).
Read the article that has been accepted (NB not the final version) at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cssc.201402440/abstract.
Reference: Stéven Renault, Daniel Brandell, Kristina Edström, Environmentally-friendly lithium recycling from a spent organic Li-ion battery, ChemSusChem, 2014.
Daniel Brandell | Eurek Alert!
Further reports about: > Smart > Uppsala > battery > chemicals > electric vehicles > electricity grid > energy content > energy inputs > energy output > environmental problems > inorganic > inorganic materials > lithium batteries > low energy > materials > organic materials > solve > toxic chemicals
Nano-scale process may speed arrival of cheaper hi-tech products
09.11.2018 | University of Edinburgh
Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of 'burning plasmas'
25.10.2018 | Lehigh University
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.11.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy