You heard it right. As a part of the various researches done across the world to make our future technology products more environmentally friendly, a group of researchers from the University of California has created a lithium ion battery anode using a special kind of mushrooms known as portabella mushrooms. This new type of lithium ion battery anodes are inexpensive, easy to produce and more importantly environmentally friendly compared to the lithium ion batteries which we use now in most of our devices.
Currently the industrial standard for rechargeable lithium ion battery anodes is synthetic graphite. This synthetic graphite requires high level purification and preparation processes which are harmful for the environment. The manufacturing process of these synthetic graphite anodes also comes with high cost. The new type of anodes would be a solution to both these problems.
Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at University of California, Riverside, US, said that green and sustainable alternatives to graphite based anodes can be made by using nanocarbon architectures derived from biological materials such as mushrooms.
The idea of using biomass, a biological material from living or recently dead organisms, as a replacement for graphite in lithium ion batteries, has been gaining much attraction in the scientific community because of its high carbon content, low cost and environment friendliness. The researchers have zeroed in on using mushrooms as a form of biomass, because many of the past researches have established that mushrooms are highly porous. This will give a lot of small spaces for air or liquid to pass through. This porosity of the mushrooms is very useful from making them use in batteries as it creates more space for storage and transfer of energy. Using porous materials like these has a great role in improving the performance of batteries.
“With battery materials like this, future cell phones may see an increase in run time after many uses, rather than a decrease, due to apparent activation of blind pores within the carbon architectures as the cell charges and discharges over time,” Brennan Campbell from University of California, Riverside explained.
In addition to this, mushrooms also have high concentration of potassium salt. This allows them to become increased electrolyte active material over time by activating more pores. This unlike the conventional anodes will lead to gradually increasing capacity in these anodes made from mushrooms. The conventional anodes allow lithium to most of the materials fully during the first few cycles, and then the capacity fades because of electrode damage which occurs from that point on. With better optimisation, the mushroom anode technology could replace the graphite anodes in the near future, and your smartphones in the future could be probably powered by such environmentally batteries.