Very few things would be more helpful to the transition to clean energy, all-natural, low-cost battery that lasts a long time. So imagine how world-changing a battery made from wood fibers could be to the clean energy movement. A team of scientists at the University of Maryland, including Liangbing Hu, and Teng Li, have done just that, creating a battery made of wood fibers and tin, two of the cheapest and most-common elements in the world.
They said it should be economical and more environmentally sound than typical batteries, and is most suitable for large-scale power plant energy storage, rather than electric vehicles. However, the technology could eventually evolve to that point
“The inspiration behind the idea comes from the trees,” said Hu. “Wood fibers that make up a tree once held mineral-rich water, and so are ideal for storing liquid electrolytes, making them not only the base but an active part of the battery.”
“Pushing sodium ions through tin anodes often weaken the tin’s connection to its base material,” said Li, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the Maryland Nanocenter. “But the wood fibers are soft enough to serve as a mechanical buffer, and thus can accommodate tin’s changes. This is the key to our long-lasting sodium-ion batteries.”
After hundreds of charges and discharges, the wood remained intact, but was wrinkled. Still, it is better wrinkled than broken! The wrinkles actually relax the stress in the battery during cycling, which means that these batteries may be able to last a long time. They were able to last more than 400 cycles so far. Typical lead-acid batteries last 500-800 cycles.
Imagine the potential in battery technology that is cheap, long-lasting, and made up of naturally-recurring resources. The phrase “game changer” for once genuinely applies.
Source: The Daily Fusion