We know that producing renewable, green energy is important, but properly storing this energy for use in the future when it’s needed most is vital to creating a fully sustainable energy supply. Now, a Bristol-led team uses nanomaterials made from seaweed to create a battery separator, opening the way for greener and more efficient energy storage! Let’s take a look.
Seaweed Is The Key Ingredient For This New Battery Separator!
Batteries are some of the most popular energy storage devices, but they are problematic in the transition to greener energy sources. One of the repeated drawbacks with sodium-based batteries is the growth of dendrites, which are tentacle-like microstructures that generally form as the battery goes through charging cycles.
Dendrites can be pretty dangerous for a battery as they can penetrate the separator membrane between the two electrodes and cause short circuits, which can sometimes cause fires… yikes!
Expanding on past work at the University of Bristol, and in collaboration with Imperial College and University College London, a team of researchers have accomplished creating a battery separator from cellulose nanomaterials — derived from brown seaweed! Yes, that’s right, seaweed. Isn’t that amazing?!
Sodium-Metal Batteries VS Lithium-Ion — Which Is Better For The Environment?
Right now, sodium-metal batteries (SMBs) are gaining lots of attention as sodium-ion chemistry provides a more environmentally compatible approach than using traditional materials like lithium-ion.
Lithium is the metal most often used in current battery technology, thanks to its fast charging ability and high power density. However, it’s very expensive to mine due to being quite scarce. Another issue with lithium extraction is that it can be destructive to the environment.
On the other hand, sodium is a much more plentiful substance and also provides high power density and theoretical capacity. The researchers from the University of Bristol say that enhancing the components of this new seaweed-based technology may give SMBs a major role in the future of energy storage!
Seaweed Nanomaterials For Greener, Greater Energy Storage
This new seaweed-based separator technology makes use of cellulose nanomaterials, which actually stops crystals and dendrites from forming and penetrating the separator! “I was delighted to see that these nanomaterials are able to strengthen the separator materials and enhance our capability to move towards sodium-based batteries.” — Dr. Amaka Onyianta, BCI.
“It also allows for greater storage capacity and efficiency, increasing the lifetime of the batteries - something which is key to powering devices such as mobile phones for much longer.” — Jing Wang, BCI. The team showed in their findings that the batteries made from seaweed-based cellulose nanomaterials could maintain high energy density when subjected to more than 1000 cycles. This success in battery stability means that the technology could be used in other battery types too!
The next stages for this battery are exploring ways to upscale seaweed-derived energy storage, to unfold a more sustainable energy system in the near future!
What are your thoughts on this new seaweed-based battery? We love how it proves that greener forms of energy storage are possible, without being harmful to the environment in its manufacturing!
For more stories about new renewable-energy innovations being developed around the world, check out our Eco News category and the blogs below.