Scientists Turn Packing Peanuts Into Battery Components

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Packing Peanuts – Are They the Solution to Our Charging Problems?.

A new study from researchers at Purdue University illustrates a new and interesting way to make use of those packing peanuts you see in packages – the creation of faster-charging rechargeable batteries.

The uniquitious foam chips or “packaging peanuts” used around to safely cushion products in transit are notoriously difficult to recycle, and are frequently dumped in land-fill sites where they can take decades to break down. This could be about to change thanks to a team from Purdue University in the US which has developed a process that enables the ubiquitous chips to be converted into carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are claimed to outperform conventional graphite electrodes The anodes in most of today’s lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite. The method is simple and straightforward, according to Professor Vilas Pol. “Typically, the ‘peanuts’ are heated between 500 and 900°C in a furnace under inert atmosphere in the presence or absence of a transition metal salt catalyst.” According to the team, commercial anode particles are about 10 times thicker than the new anodes and have a higher electrical resistance, which increases charging time. “In our case, if we are lithiating this material during the charging of a battery it has to travel only 1µm, so you can charge and discharge a battery faster than your commercially available material,” Prof Pol said.

These carbon electrodes are more effective than the usual graphite electrodes, and most of all, the use of packing peanuts makes it more environmentally-safe than the conventional use of graphite. Digging deeper into the study, the packing peanuts are turned into carbon-nanoparticle anodes by means of polystyrene packing peanuts and microsheet anodes, the latter of which are made from starchy packing material. Future work will include steps to potentially improve performance by further activation to increase the surface area and pore size to improve the electrochemical performance.” This material is protected by Findlay Media copyright See Terms and Conditions.

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