Most people who believe in the electric car revolution would agree with this statement: “Batteries that power electric vehicles are expensive and need to be charged frequently, which causes anxiety for consumers and negatively impacts the sale of these vehicles. To improve the adoption of electric vehicles, we need much better batteries.”
Those are the words of Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California – Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering. He and his colleague Cengiz Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering at UCR, have recently published a paper in the journal Scientific Reports entitled “Carbon-Coated, Diatomite-Derived Nanosilicon as a High Rate Capable Li-ion Battery Anode.” Mihri Ozkan says, “We believe diatomaceous earth, which is abundant and inexpensive, could be another sustainable source of silicon for battery anodes.”
Lithium ion batteries, the most popular rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles and personal electronics, have several major components including an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte made of lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent. The anode and cathode are the electrodes that connect the storage medium to the outside world. Better electrodes make better batteries. End of story.
The professors have previously investigated using portabello mushrooms and beach sand to make better anodes for batteries. Their latest research delves into the possibility of using the fossilized remains of single cell algae called diatoms. If their research is correct, the diatoms could be the key to less expensive, more energy efficient silicon based anodes for lithium ion batteries.