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New Scientific Achievement:
A Battery Made of Wood - Benign, Very Cheap And Long Lasting

8 July, 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - We use batteries in many different things including computers, laptops, cars, radios, mobile phones, clocks, watches, and much more.

Batteries are made from a variety of chemicals to power their reactions and some of these chemicals, such as nickel and cadmium, are extremely toxic and can cause damage to humans and the environment in form of soil and water pollution and endangering wildlife.

Now, a new research project developed by scientists of the University of Maryland hopes to change the situation at least on the small-scale.



A team led by professor Hongli Zhu has succeeded in creating a nanoscale rechargeable battery from the most environmentally friendly material there is — wood. This alternative to existing batteries would be benign when disposed of and very cheap to manufacture.

The components in the battery tested by scientists at the University of Maryland are a thousand times thinner than a piece of paper.

Using sodium instead of lithium, as many rechargeable batteries do, makes the battery environmentally benign. Sodium doesn’t store energy as efficiently as lithium, so you won’t see this battery in your cell phone - instead, its low cost and common materials would make it ideal to store huge amounts of energy at once, such as solar energy at a power plant.

Existing batteries are often created on stiff bases, which are too brittle to withstand the swelling and shrinking that happens as electrons are stored in and used up from the battery.

Liangbing Hu, Teng Li and their team found that wood fibers are supple enough to let their sodium-ion battery last more than 400 charging cycles, which puts it among the longest lasting nanobatteries.


University of Maryland Scientists Create Battery Using Wood


"The inspiration behind the idea comes from the trees," said Hu, an assistant professor of materials science. "Wood fibers that make up a tree once held mineral-rich water, and so are ideal for storing liquid electrolytes, making them not only the base but an active part of the battery."

Teh team noticed that after charging and discharging the battery hundreds of times, the wood ended up wrinkled but intact. Computer models showed that that the wrinkles effectively relax the stress in the battery during charging and recharging, so that the battery can survive many cycles.

"Pushing sodium ions through tin anodes often weaken the tin’s connection to its base material,” said Li, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

"But the wood fibers are soft enough to serve as a mechanical buffer, and thus can accommodate tin’s changes. This is the key to our long-lasting sodium-ion batteries."

The team’s research was supported by the University of Maryland and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

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