Turning waste glass bottles into batteries

May 29, 2017 | 00:00
Image credit: UC Riverside
Image credit: UC Riverside
Even with today's recycling programs, billions of glass bottles end up in landfills every year, prompting the researchers to ask whether silicon dioxide in waste beverage bottles could provide high purity silicon nanoparticles for lithium-ion batteries. Good news: researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have successfully used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries may extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as well as provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

Silicon anodes can store up to 10 times more energy than conventional graphite anodes, but expansion and shrinkage during charge and discharge make them unstable. Downsizing silicon to the nanoscale has been shown to reduce this problem, and by combining an abundant and relatively pure form of silicon dioxide and a low-cost chemical reaction, the researchers created lithium-ion half-cell batteries that store almost four times more energy than conventional graphite anodes.

As expected, coin cell batteries made using the glass bottle-based silicon anodes greatly outperformed traditional batteries in laboratory tests. Carbon-coated glass derived-silicon (gSi@C) electrodes demonstrated excellent electrochemical performance with a capacity of about 1420 mAh/g at 0.5-C rate after 400 cycles.

Changling Li, a graduate student in materials science and engineering and lead author on the paper, said one glass bottle provides enough nanosilicon for hundreds of coin cell batteries or three-five pouch cell batteries.

Publication: Changling Li et al, Silicon Derived from Glass Bottles as Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Full Cell Batteries, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01086-8

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