Science Blast! Trash to Trusty…Batteries

One of the great needs in our modern world is better batteries. We are starting to be able to produce energy reliably from wind, solar, etc…but without batteries to store such energy, it is only available on the day that it is created.

This might not solve that problem, but here is a creative new use of discarded glass bottles.

 Waste glass bottles are turned into nanosilicon anodes
using a low cost chemical process. Credit: UC Riverside

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

Titled “Silicon Derived from Glass Bottles as Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Full Cell Batteries,” an article describing the research was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering, led the project.

Even with today’s recycling programs, billions of glass bottles end up in landfills every year, prompting the researchers to ask whether silicon dioxide in waste beverage bottles could provide high purity silicon nanoparticles for lithium-ion batteries.

Silicon anodes can store up to 10 times more energy than conventional graphite anodes, but expansion and shrinkage during charge and discharge make them unstable. Downsizing silicon to the nanoscale has been shown to reduce this problem, and by combining an abundant and relatively pure form of silicon dioxide and a low-cost chemical reaction, the researchers created lithium-ion half-cell batteries that store almost four times more energy than conventional graphite anodes.

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