Could veg-based 3D printed batteries offer better charging?

Scientists say a new innovation could have around two or three times better charging performance than conventional lithium-ion versions

A new 3D printed recyclable battery that uses electrodes made from vegetable powder could provide mobile devices with a higher capacity source of power.

That is the suggestion from a team of engineers led by the University of Glasgow, which has published its findings in the Journal of Power Sources.

The battery was designed to make more sustainable lithium-ion batteries, capable of storing and delivering power more efficiently.

Scientists wanted to increase lithium-ion batteries‘ recyclability and overcome the limitation on the amount of energy current designs can store.

That is believed to be caused by the thickness of their electrodes – thicker electrodes restrict the movement of lithium-ions across the electrode, limiting the energy of lithium-ion batteries.

The scientific team loaded their 3D printer with a material they developed which combines polylactic acid, lithium-iron phosphate and carbon nanotubes.

Polylactic acid is a biodegradable material processed from the starch of corn, sugar cane and sugar beet.

The testing of the new battery showed its performance is around two to three times higher than a traditional lithium-ion battery.

Dr Shanmugam Kumar from the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, said: “The 3D printing process we’ve used in this research gives us a remarkable amount of control over the electrodes’ porosity, allowing us to engineer very precisely a new metamaterial capable of addressing some of the shortcomings of the current generation of lithium-ion batteries.

“We’ve created a battery with a high specific capacity and areal capacity with excellent cyclability.”

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