Beach Sand Used To Make A Battery That Lasts Three Times Longer
Charge your phone with that white stuff from the beach
By Douglas Main Posted 07.11.2014 at 3:30 pm
Sink your toes into this: Beach sand can be used to make lithium-ion batteries that last three times longer than current models, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
“This is the holy grail: a low-cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium-ion battery anodes,” said Zachary Favors, a graduate student at UC Riverside, in a statement.
The idea came to Favors when he was sitting on the beach after surfing, and realized the material was made up of a high percentage of quartz, or silicon dioxide. Typically the negative side, or anode, of lithium-ion batteries are made with graphite. Silicon has been eyed as a replacement material, since it can store about 10 times more energy--only it's difficult to produce in large quantities and degrades quickly. But perhaps the silicon in sand could provide a cheap, abundant source of silicon.
After finding a reservoir of sand with an even higher fraction of quartz, in Texas, Favors processed it in the lab, as described by Gizmag:
[Favors] ground salt and magnesium into the purified quartz and heated the resulting powder. In this very simple process, the salt acted as a heat absorber while the magnesium removed oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon. More than that, the pure nano-silicon formed in a very porous, 3D silicon sponge-like consistency. Porosity is one of the keys to improving the performance of battery anodes as it provides a large surface area and allows lithium ions to travel through them more quickly.
The researchers have filed patents for the technology, and used it to produce a coin-sized lithium ion battery. The technology would allow phones to last for about three days on one charge, as opposed to the current average of about one day per charge, according to the business newspaper Mint. Let's hope this technology turns out to be as exciting as it sounds.
Silly Putty material inspires better batteries: Silicon dioxide used to make lithium-ion batteries that last three times longer
Using a material found in Silly Putty and surgical tubing, a group of researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have developed a new way to make lithium-ion batteries that will last three times longer between charges compared to the current industry standard.
The team created silicon dioxide (SiO2) nanotube anodes for lithium-ion batteries and found they had over three times as much energy storage capacity as the carbon-based anodes currently being used. This has significant implications for industries including electronics and electric vehicles, which are always trying to squeeze longer discharges out of batteries.
"We are taking the same material used in kids' toys and medical devices and even fast food and using it to create next generation battery materials," said Zachary Favors, the lead author of a just-published paper on the research.
The paper, "Stable Cycling of SiO2 Nanotubes as High-Performance Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries," was published online in the journal Nature Scientific Reports
It was co-authored by Cengiz S. Ozkan, a mechanical engineering professor, Mihrimah Ozkan, an electrical engineering professor, and several of their current and former graduate students: Wei Wang, Hamed Hosseinni Bay, Aaron George and Favors.
The team originally focused on silicon dioxide because it is an extremely abundant compound, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and found in many other products.
Silicon dioxide has previously been used as an anode material in lithium ion batteries, but the ability to synthesize the material into highly uniform exotic nanostructures with high energy density and long cycle life has been limited.
There key finding was that the silicon dioxide nanotubes are extremely stable in batteries, which is important because it means a longer lifespan
Specifically, SiO2 nanotube anodes were cycled 100 times without any loss in energy storage capability and the authors are highly confident that they could be cycled hundreds more times.
The researchers are now focused on developed methods to scale up production of the SiO2 nanotubes in hopes they could become a commercially viable product.
The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a novel nanometer scale ruthenium oxide anchored nanocarbon graphene foam architecture that improves the performance of supercapacitors, a development that could mean faster acceleration in electric vehicles and longer battery life in portable electronics.
The researchers found that supercapacitors, an energy storage device like batteries and fuel cells, based on transition metal oxide modified nanocarbon graphene foam electrode could work safely in aqueous electrolyte and deliver two times more energy and power compared to supercapacitors commercially available today.
The foam electrode was successfully cycled over 8,000 times with no fading in performance. The findings were outlined in a recently published paper, "Hydrous Ruthenium Oxide Nanoparticles Anchored to Graphene and Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Foam for Supercapacitors," in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
The paper was written by graduate student Wei Wang; Cengiz S. Ozkan, a mechanical engineering professor at UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering; Mihrimah Ozkan, an electrical engineering professor; Francisco Zaera, a chemistry professor; Ilkeun Lee, a researcher in Zaera's lab; and other graduate students Shirui Guo, Kazi Ahmed and Zachary Favors.
Supercapacitors (also known as ultracapacitors) have garnered substantial attention in recent years because of their ultra-high charge and discharge rate, excellent stability, long cycle life and very high power density.
These characteristics are desirable for many applications including electric vehicles and portable electronics. However, supercapacitors may only serve as standalone power sources in systems that require power delivery for less than 10 seconds because of their relatively low specific energy.
A team led by Cengiz S. Ozkan and Mihri Ozkan at UC Riverside are working to develop and commercialize nanostructured materials for high energy density supercapacitors.
High capacitance, or the ability to store an electrical charge, is critical to achieve higher energy density. Meanwhile, to achieve a higher power density it is critical to have a large electrochemically accessible surface area, high electrical conductivity, short ion diffusion pathways and excellent interfacial integrity. Nanostructured active materials provide a mean to these ends.
"Besides high energy and power density, the designed graphene foam electrode system also demonstrates a facile and scalable binder-free technique for preparing high energy supercapacitor electrodes," Wang said. "These promising properties mean that this design could be ideal for future energy storage applications."