Algae nanostructure makes ideal battery

A group of researchers have discovered that the perfect environmentally friendly battery could be inspired by algae.

 
Unique Algal cellulose structure makes for a record breaking battery

The team – from the Uppsala University in Sweden – say that the distinctive cellulose nanostructure of these algae can serve as an effective coating substrate for use in environmentally friendly batteries.

“These algae have a special cellulose structure characterised by a very large surface area,” says Gustav Nyström, a doctoral student in nanotechnology. “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.”

Pharmaceutical applications of the cellulose from Cladophora algae have been explored for a number of years. This type of cellulose has a unique nanostructure, entirely different from that of terrestrial plants, that has been shown to function well as a thickening agent for pharmaceutical preparations and as a binder in foodstuffs. It is because of this huge surface area that the possibility of energy-storage applications has been raised.

“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 chemists, cellulose pharmaceutics experts, battery chemists and nanotechnologists.” 

An article based on the work – published in Nano Letters – introduces an entirely new electrode material for energy storage applications, consisting of a nanostructure of algal cellulose coated with a 50 nm layer of polypyrrole.

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

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