Scientists at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of engineering have managed to create a working battery out of used waste glass bottles. This is particularly exciting news in the wake of the ongoing struggle to deal with excess waste. Billions of glass bottles occupy landfills every single year. Now, these scientists have found a way to give them a second life, and power our devices at the same time. It’s giving ‘clean energy‘ a whole new meaning.
The researchers designed a low-cost chemical process that takes the waste glass and turns it into nanosilicon anodes. These anodes can be used for high-performance lithium batteries, which have a variety of uses in all sorts of devices. Even better, these new green batteries are head and shoulders above the commonly used graphite anodes. Silicon anodes have the ability to hold up to 10 times the energy we enjoy in traditional graphite anodes. It sounds like the perfect solution to our waste and energy issues, right?
There’s just one major problem with silicon anodes that has prevented us from taking advantage of their considerable good qualities. They expand and shrink during the charging process; this can make them extremely unstable and dangerous for consumers.
The solution to this issue is all about size. Scientists found that by reducing the silicon to nanoscale significantly reduced this problem. The researchers finished off their green battery creation by combining it with a form of silicon dioxide and a low-cost chemical reaction. The end result is a cheap, effective, green battery that can hold nearly four times the energy of their graphite anode counterparts.
That being said, not all of the green batteries are created equal. The smaller batteries performed best of all, with coin cell batteries winning out for the strongest charge and greatest lasting power. But all of the green batteries exceeded the performance of the traditional batteries they went up against. Considering the ease with which these batteries were produced and the low cost of creating them, mass production for consumers is the next obvious step. Soon, waste glass could have a whole new purpose and lease on life — powering some of our favorite devices