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Making batteries from waste glass bottles

Nanosilicon anodes for high performance lithium-ion batteries have been created by researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, using waste glass bottles and a low cost chemical process.

According to the researchers, the batteries could 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.

"We started with a waste product that was headed for the landfill and created batteries that stored more energy, charged faster, and were more stable than commercial coin cell batteries. Hence, we have very promising candidates for next-generation lithium-ion batteries," graduate student Changling Li said.

Silicon anodes are said to 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 a 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.

To create the anodes, the team used a three-step process that involved crushing and grinding the glass bottles into a fine white power, a magnesiothermic reduction to transform the silicon dioxide into nanostructured silicon, and coating the silicon nanoparticles with carbon to improve their stability and energy storage properties.

One glass bottle is said to provide enough nanosilicon for hundreds of coin cell batteries or three-five pouch cell batteries.

Author
Peggy Lee

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