Singaporean scientists develop technique for turning paper into lithium batteries.
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a technique to convert waste paper from packaging, single-use bags and cardboard boxes into a key component of lithium-ion batteries.
Through a process called carbonization , which converts paper into pure carbon, NTU researchers have turned paper fibers into electrodes, which can be made into rechargeable batteries that power cell phones, medical equipment and electric vehicles.
The carbonization process consists in exposing the recycled paper to high temperatures, reducing it into pure carbon, water vapor and oils that can be used as biofuel. Scientists ensure the minimum ecological impact of this process since carbonization takes place in the absence of oxygen, the emission of carbon dioxide is therefore defined as negligible, indeed, it is a more ecological alternative compared to the disposal of paper with incineration (which produces large amounts of greenhouse gases).
Carbonization leads to the chemical production of carbon anodes which are characterized by superior durability, flexibility and electrochemical properties. Laboratory tests have shown that the anodes can be charged and discharged up to 1,200 times , at least twice as long as the anodes in today’s cell phone batteries. Batteries using NTU-manufactured anodes are also able to withstand greater physical stresses than their counterparts, absorbing crush energy up to five times better.
Since the anode accounts for 10-15% of the total cost of a lithium-ion battery, this new method, which uses a low-cost waste material, should also reduce the cost of production.
- Exceptional energy absorption characteristics and compressive resilience of functional carbon foams scalably and sustainably derived from additively manufactured kraft paper. (ntu.edu.sg)