People are always complaining that their cellphone batteries are inefficient. Our current industries use a lithium ion battery in many consumer products. In these batteries, synthetic graphite is used as the anode in the chemical reaction that supplies power to our devices. However, the production of these anodes is very cost inefficient and harmful to the environment.
Diagram of Lithium Ion Battery
Researchers at the University of California Riverside Bourns School of Engineering have found an alternative anode in the form of Portabella mushrooms. Using the mushrooms’ initial ribbon-like structure, researchers heat the samples up to 500 and 1100 degrees Celsius to create strips of porous carbon. These strips have a very high surface area as a result of these pores and are very useful for the storage of energy.
Portabella mushrooms have the potential to be better batteries than our current graphite anode counterparts. When the graphite anodes are mass produced, massive amounts of sulfuric acid and hydrofluoric acid are needed which creates hazardous waste. On the other hand, the Portabella mushroom is an easily grown biomass and has little to no impact on the environment.
In terms of energy efficiency, users usually complain about the decreasing capacity of current batteries with graphite anodes. Portabella mushroom batteries may feature capacities that increase over time. Mushrooms have a high concentration of potassium ions. As these batteries are used, more pores can activate creating an anode with increasing electrolytes.
Now, it is up to the researchers to introduce this product to the world. They are currently filing for patents and will hopefully bring a more environmentally friendly solution to our energy storage troubles.
You can find the abstract and published research here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep14575
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