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September 11th, 2009

Green algae harnessed to make paper-based batteries

Published on September 11th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

A press release from Uppsala University, Sweden, claims that a group of researchers at the Ångström Laboratory have discovered that the distinctive cellulose nanostructure of Cladophora algae can serve as an effective coating substrate for use in environmentally friendly batteries.

The findings have been published in an article in Nano Letters.

“These algae has a special cellulose structure characterized by a very large surface area,” says Gustav Nyström, a doctoral student in nanotechnology and the first author of the article. “By coating this structure with a thin layer of conducting polymer, we have succeeded in producing a battery that weighs almost nothing and that has set new charge-time and capacity records for polymer-cellulose-based batteries.”

This is the first attempt at using algae cellulose for battery applications. This type of cellulose has a unique nanostructure, entirely different from that of terrestrial plants. Its large surface area made it a candidate for energy-storage applications.

“We have long hoped to find some sort of constructive use for the material from algae blooms and have now been shown this to be possible,” says Maria Strømme, professor in nanotechnology and leader of the research group. “The battery research has a genuinely interdisciplinary character and was initiated in collaboration with chemist professor Leif Nyholm. Cellulose pharmaceutics experts, battery chemists and nanotechnologists have all played essential roles in developing the new material.”

Batteries that use this algal cellulose, coated with a 50 nm layer of polypyrrole, can store up to 600 mA per cm3 with 6 percent loss through 100 charging cycles.

“This creates new possibilities for large-scale production of environmentally friendly, cost-effective, lightweight energy storage systems,” says Strømme.

“Our success in obtaining a much higher charge capacity than was previously possible with batteries based on advanced polymers is primarily due to the extreme thinness of the polymer layer,” says Nyström.


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