Mushrooms May Create Environmentally Safe Batteries of the Future

First Posted: Sep 30, 2015 07:44 AM EDT

Mushrooms aren't just good to eat. It turns out that they may also be useful for creating batteries. Scientists have found that portabella mushrooms may stop cell phone batteries from degrading over time.

There's an anticipated increase in batteries needed for electric vehicles and electronics. This means that a cheaper and sustainable source to replace graphite is needed. In theory, using biomass as a replacement for graphite could lead to low costs and a more environmentally friendly battery.

In this case, the researchers looked at mushrooms. Nanocarbon architectures derived from biological materials such as mushrooms can be considered a green and sustainable alternative to graphite-based anodes. The nano-ribbon-like architectures in mushrooms transform upon heat treatment into an interconnected porous network architecture which is important for battery electrodes because this type of architecture possesses a very large surface area for the storage of energy.

One of the problems with conventional carbons, such as graphite, is that they are typically prepared with chemicals such as acids and activated by bases that aren't environmentally friendly. By using naturally-derived carbons, batteries may just be better for the environment.

The new findings could be important for the future creation of batteries. Currently, the researchers are working on also using beach sand as the natural raw material to create a lithium-ion battery anode. They're also now working on the development of pouch prototype batteries based on nanosilicon anodes.

The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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