Car batteries of the future could come from fossils

Car batteries of the future could come from fossils

Car batteries of the future could come from fossils A newly published study from the University of California, Riverside’s (UCR) Bourns College of Engineering revealed that researchers have developed a cost efficient way to create silicon based anodes for lithium-ion batteries from fossilized single-celled algae called diatoms.

Findings from the study could lead to the development of ultra-high capacity lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles and portable electronics.

Anodes are electrodes through which currents flow to an electric device. Graphite is the material most commonly used to manufacture anodes in batteries, but its performance limits the batteries and precludes the optimization of their applications. In contrast, silicon, which can store up to 10 times more energy, has the potential to become an alternative anode material. However, traditional manufacturing methods using the material are expensive and energy-intensive. 

As an alternative, the UCR researchers tapped a cheaper source of silicon, diatomaceous earth (DE), which is composed of the fossilized remains of the said algae. It also used a more cost efficient process to convert this low cost source of silicon dioxide into pure silicon nano-particles, which can be used in battery applications.

“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 Ozkan said.

Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering, and Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, led the research team.

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