U.S. scientists have developed a battery with a wood electrolyte – delivering record conductivity.
Battery Made of Wood
Scientists at Brown University and the University of Maryland have created a solid electrolyte battery based on cellulose nanofibers found in wood. The research results were published in the scientific journal Nature.
In the development, the researchers combined polymeric wood tubes with copper to create a solid ion conductor that has ceramic-like conductivity and is 10 to 100 times better than other polymeric ion conductors.
- They note that the wood electrolyte bends well and absorbs energy during the charge cycle.
- The team points out that the addition of copper creates space between the cellulose polymer chains to form “ion superhighways” that allow lithium ions to travel with record efficiency.
- Because the material is thin and flexible, it is expected to better withstand the stresses of battery operation.
- In addition, the use of natural materials helps reduce the overall negative impact of battery manufacturing on the environment.
What it means
Today’s lithium batteries typically use a liquid electrolyte to transfer ions between the two electrodes, but scientists see promise in the development of solid alternatives, such as those based on wood.
This is primarily because the volatile liquids used in lithium batteries carry the risk of fire when the device short-circuits and can contribute to dendrite formation, which reduces performance. Meanwhile, solid electrolytes can be made of noncombustible materials, which will reduce such risks.
With the active development of electric vehicles, solid electrolyte batteries could become the next generation technology – research in this industry is being conducted by automakers such as:
It should be noted that wood is not the only material for solid electrolytes. Previously, a team of scientists proposed a “solid” alternative to liquid electrolytes based on ceramics, a material that was expected to become a fundamental safety solution for lithium-ion batteries. And in 2020, Ion Storage Systems developed a tough and dense ceramic electrolyte with a thickness of only about 10 micrometers, offering a high level of resistance.