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Batteries Might Get a Boost from Pollen

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 08:59AM

Pollen is a fairly common material in Nature, and for those with allergies, it may be a bit too common. Either way this makes it interesting as a potential feedstock and researchers at Purdue University have found an intriguing use for it. By processing pollen into carbon, the researchers were able to create anodes for lithium-ion batteries with some impressive properties.

The researchers started with bee pollen and cattail pollen, and with a process called pyrolysis created pure carbon. This process involves heating the material to high temperatures in a chamber of argon gas, leaving a pure-carbon version of the original object. This pollen-derived carbon was then activated at around 300 ºC in an oxygen environment, causing pores to form. These pores improve the energy storage capacity of the carbon by increasing its surface area. The researchers next took the pollen anodes and found that while it took 10 hours to fully charge them only one hour was needed to reach more than half charge. In theory the graphite anodes currently used in lithium-ion batteries can reach 372 milliamp hours, and with just one hour reached 200 mA hours with these new anodes.

In the future the researchers intend to test these anodes in a full-cell battery with a commercial cathode. Further testing will be required to determine just how viable these anodes will be, and perhaps ways to improve their efficiency will also be discovered.

Source: Purdue University

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