A new technological breakthrough could put leftover apples to good use. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany found a way to transform rotten apples into a hard carbon material for sodium-ion batteries, potentially revolutionizing grid energy storage systems and even how we power our electronic tablets.
Researchers saw opportunity in the wasteful habit of tossing out imperfect apples, which are unappealing to consumers and rot too quickly to become feed for livestock. By drying out the fruits and creating a “hard carbon” product, the team has found an anode that shows minimal degradation after 1,000 charge and discharge cycles, making it a highly efficient alternative to lithium batteries.
Professor Stefano Passerini, one of the team’s leaders, told Gizmag, “Sodium-ion batteries are not commercial, yet. However, hard carbon appears to be the most promising anode material because it’s cheap.” Lithium-based batteries require the use of expensive and dangerous materials, such as cobalt, making the sodium-ion alternatives much greener. The team hopes the successful experiment can lead to a future where sodium-ion batteries are behind grid power storage, low-energy electric cars, and even our most beloved tablets, laptops, and smartphones.