Scientists at the Energy Research Center at the University of Maryland in College Park have come up with a new spin on “green” energy: batteries made out of wood fibers.
The fibers are formed into thin sheets and coated with tin. Charged sodium ion particles flow through the fibers, which creates the electric current.
Because sodium isn’t as efficient as lithium when it comes to storing energy, wood-based batteries could be used for storing large amounts of energy at one time rather than for powering something like a cell phone. The wood fibers are supple, which provides enough flexibility to withstand hundreds of charging cycles. The materials are relatively low cost, and more environmentally friendly than traditional batteries.
According to a press release announcing the research:
[The researchers] knew that wood fibers from trees are supple and naturally designed to hold mineral-rich water, similar to the electrolyte in batteries. They decided to explore use of wood as the base of an experimental sodium-ion battery. Using sodium rather than lithium would make the device environmentally friendly.
The research was published in Nano Letters. So far, the research team has only created a prototype battery; more work will be required to develop a commercial viable product.
Source: American Chemical Society