A significant share of devices from smartphones to electric cars are powered by Lithium-ion batteries, and they are efficient. But these batteries lose capacity over time and have limited discharge cycles as the anodes gradually deteriorate with time. As the demands for higher capacity and sustainability over time increase, researchers are looking elsewhere for a replacement to the existing technology that can cater to the requirements while keeping the prices feasible. And researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have stumbled upon something that they think can stop batteries from degrading over time, while maintaining the same capacity. They are talking about Portobello Mushrooms.
They have created a new type of Lithium-ion battery with portobello mushrooms, which has significant immediate benefits of being cost-effective, inexpensive, environment-friendly and easy to produce. The current industrial standard for lithium-ion battery anode is graphite that is highly expensive, difficult to produce and is also quite harmful to the environment. Biomass seems to be the perfect solution to the need for a cheap and sustainable source to replace graphite as global demands for batteries increase.
The primary characteristics of battery anode are structure and porosity. Porosity is essential for an anode as it creates more space for storage and transfer of energy, which in turn affect battery performance. Graphite anode degrades over time due to electrical damage, whereas the high content of potassium salt in portobello mushrooms improve the material's capacity to carry electrons over time. The Nano carbon architecture obtained from mushroom also happens to see an increase in run time over extended use, due to activation of blind pores in the carbon architecture as charge and discharge cycles keep taking place. According to the researchers, Mushroom lithium ion batteries are not going to enter commercial markets anytime soon, as a lot more optimization is required before such biological anodes can replace the standard graphite anode while retaining the same reliability and capacity. But according to the paper published in the Nature journal, it is very much possible as batteries made out of biological organic material are cheap, easy to produce, environment-friendly, and most importantly, feasible.