TORONTO (THE CAMPING CANUCK) – in an effort to find alternative energy sources, scientists are developing inexpensive, energy-efficient lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles by using silicon-based anodes made from an algae called diatoms.
Researchers from the University Of California believe diatoms, a prehistoric single-celled algae are the the key to making better batteries in the future.
In the paper, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers said unlike graphite, which is the material of choice for most anodes, silicon can store about 10 times more energy. But developing a silicon anode as an alternative through the traditional method, called carbothermic reduction, is expensive and energy-intensive.
Using a process called magnesiothermic reduction, the group converted this low-cost source of Silicon Dioxide (SiO2) to pure silicon nano-particles.
“A significant finding in our research was the preservation of the diatom cell walls — structures known as frustules — creating a highly porous anode that allows easy access for the electrolyte,” Mihri Ozkan, research lead and professor of electrical engineering, said.
Previous research has focused on developing and testing anodes from portabella mushrooms and beach sand. “Batteries that power electric vehicles are expensive and need to be charged frequently, which causes anxiety for consumers and negatively impacts the sale of these vehicles. “To improve the adoption of electric vehicles, we need much better batteries. We believe diatomaceous earth, which is abundant and inexpensive, could be another sustainable source of silicon for battery anodes,” Mihri said.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Representational Image (Source: Pixabay)