Researchers use crabs to create more environmentally friendly batteries
Just one thing to note. Like all rechargeable products, the rise of electric vehicles depends on a rise in battery manufacturing.
“A large number of batteries are being produced and consumed raising the possibility of environmental problems,” Liangbing Hu, director of the Center for Materials Innovation at the University of Maryland, said in a release. It takes hundreds or thousands of years to degrade and adds to the burden on the environment.”
It looks like Hu has an interesting solution to the battery conundrum. In a paper published Thursday in Matter, Hu and other researchers describe a battery they have created that is more biodegradable than lithium-ion power sources. What is special about this battery is that it is made of crab shells.
Batteries work by using a special substance called an electrolyte to move ions, or charged particles, back and forth between the negative and positive electrodes. So it’s very important to put (+) and (-) in the right place.
The electrolyte can be a variety of different media, but according to the researchers in the new study, many batteries use flammable or corrosive chemicals for this function. However, chemicals are not easily biodegraded. In contrast, Hu and his colleagues used a gel electrolyte for their battery in a biomaterial called chitosan. It is reported that chitosan is easily biodegraded.
“Chitosan is a derivative of chitin,” Hu said. “There are many sources of chitin, including the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of crustaceans, and the pens of squid.” But according to Hu, the most abundant sources of chitin are in those Crustaceans have exoskeletons like pink shrimp tails, crimson lobster carapaces, and crab shells.
So any idea where to find these exoskeletons? “Seafood scrap, you can find it on your desk,” Hu said.
In a way, this aspect of the team’s prototype solves two problems at the same time. According to a 2015 study in Nature, around 6 million to 8 million tonnes of discarded crab, shrimp and lobster shells are produced globally. Crab meat only makes up about 40% of its mass, so this is bound to cause quite a bit of food waste.
The report goes on to point out that the shells are often dumped in landfills or the ocean – a costly disposal method that can exceed $100 per ton and is not good for the environment, as the landfill itself also indirectly causes Harmful gas emissions.
So from the point of view of producing biodegradable batteries, it would be great if all these expensive shells that need to be thrown away could be repurposed and turned into something useful to protect our planet. Affection.
According to the team’s new research, the chitosan used in its battery prototypes completely decomposed within five months, leaving behind a metallic component called zinc — not lead or lithium like standard batteries — which It is actually recyclable.
The prototype has an energy efficiency of 99.7 percent after 1,000 cycles, which means it is a viable option for storing wind or solar energy in the grid. This is a big step forward for the world of zinc batteries, because although these power storage schemes are not entirely new they have always been known for being very inefficient. Researchers point out that ingredients from crab shells may be the missing piece that could take them to the next level
For now, using chitosan as the electrolyte in the battery means about 2/3 of the battery can be biodegraded, but in the future, the team hopes to address the remaining 1/3, Hu said. “In the future, I want all the components in the battery to be biodegradable. Not only the material itself, but also the manufacturing process of the biomaterial,” Hu said.