Algae is not just a fossil fuel replacement in the form of biodiesel but has been made into extraordinary rechargeable batteries. The algae is used in an all-polymer paper-based battery.
According to Gizmag and the American Chemical Society publication, NANOLetters, the researchers have come up with a promising new battery technology.
Scientists,Gustav Nystrom, Aamir Razaq, Maria Strømme†, Leif Nyholm and Albert Mihranyan at Uppsala Universitet in Sweden were looking for a way to turn deadly “blooming” algae found in oceans and seas into something useful. Rather than go the biofuel route as so many have done, the scientists decided to try something different.
Combining the expertise found in the departments of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials, Engineering Sciences, and Materials Chemistry at The Ångstrom Laboratory at Uppsala University, a new type of lightweight battery was created. This battery is composed of taking cellulose fibers from algae and coating them with a 50nm “thin layer of polypyrrole”.
Batteries made this way, have charging capacities of “between 25 and 33 mAh g−1 or 38−50 mAh g−1 per weight of the active material”. These batteries could be charged with currents as high as 600 mA cm−2. They would only lose six percent of their charging capacity after 100 charges. In layman’s terms, these batteries are extremely light and can be charged in “11.3 seconds at 320 mA”.
The algae batteries tested were not optimally packaged and the laboratory is working on that issue now. So far they have created a battery that was capable of taking 1000 charges.
There is much still to be done before these batteries hit the market. But they show promise since they should be easy and inexpensive to mass produce. Because of “low storage capabilities” these batteries probably won’t be found in your next MP3 player or laptop. However the research team does envision broad applications for this technology once it is perfected.
As Prof. Maria Strømme said:
With the technique fully developed, I believe that we may see applications that we cannot really dream of today. Try to imagine what you can create when a battery can be integrated into wall papers, clothes, the packages of your medicines, etc.
Images: Gustav Nystrom, Aamir Razaq, Maria Strømme, Leif Nyholm, Albert Mihranyan