Electric vehicles and small appliances like cell phones need "juice" - the demand for effective energy storage systems is growing. But the production of conventional lithium-ion batteries is problematic: The material for their negative pole (anode) is synthetic graphite. This special form of carbon must be artificially produced by means of environmentally harmful substances. Against the background of the growing demand for batteries, environmentally friendly alternatives are needed. Due to their high content of carbon, natural products are also considered. As researchers from the University of California at Riverside have now shown, mushroom material is ideally suited for use as an anode material.
Environmentally friendly yet powerful
Particularly favorable is the fine structure of the mushrooms, the researchers report. They were able to show that the fungus material transforms under heat into a stable and very porous mesh. This is a particularly important property for use as an anode material since it provides a large surface area for energy transfer.
In addition, the high potassium salt concentration in mushrooms is also ideal for an anode material. These conductive ingredients are increasingly activated with the time of use, thereby the capacity of batteries could even increase over time, say the researchers. "With a material like this, cell phone battery life could even increase rather than decrease with charging and recharging, as new pores in the carbon architecture are exposed, " says Brennan Campbell.
A sprouting resource
He and his colleagues are convinced that their mushroom alternative would be suitable for commercial use after optimization work. The procurement of raw materials seems particularly ideal: the researchers use hat material from conventional food mushrooms for their experiments. Accordingly, they could easily be provided for anode production on a large scale. display
Against the backdrop of current demand estimates, this seems promising: 900, 000 tonnes of graphite could be needed for the six million electric vehicles predicted by 2020. The production of conventional anodes would bring with it enormous amounts of dangerous substances. For champignon batteries this would not be the case.
Source: Communication from the University of California - Riverside© nature.de - Martin Vieweg