New polymer makes lithium ion batteries more efficient, could do the same for fuel cellsSeptember 21, 2011
Researchers from the Clemson University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered a new way to make lithium ion batteries more efficient and environmentally friendly. The discovery comes as scientists turn their attentions to nature for clues on how to solve problems with contemporary technologies. In doing so, they have found an algae that lives amongst seaweed that contains a polymer that could remove the need of toxic compounds used in making lithium ion batteries.
The polymer, known as alginate, has been shown to boost the energy storage and output of batteries. The material is used as a binder for graphite and silicon-based electrodes. This helps the electrodes perform their functions more efficiently, enhancing the overall performance of the batteries exponentially.
The adoption of alternative energies and their associated technologies has long been stunted by the cost of producing such products. Scientists have labored for years to drive down the cost of production by developing new technologies that use simple, yet effective, solutions to persisting problems.
While researchers have shown that alginate is very useful when used with lithium ion batteries, they suspect that the material can be applied to hydrogen fuel cells as well. Doing so will make the fuel cells more efficient and powerful, while lowering their overall cost. This will boost the adoption of hydrogen fuel as well as show that problems with technology can be solved by looking at nature.