Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed batteries that use a product found in crustacean shells to store energy. The new batteries are more eco-friendly, energy efficient and affordable compared to traditional ones. The scientists are now pushing to have the product adopted in the commercial production of batteries. They say that using this product is necessary owing to the increased move towards electric cars and green energy at large. 

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“We think both biodegradability of material, or environmental impact, and the performance of the batteries are important for a product, which has the potential to be commercialized,” said Liangbing Hu, the director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Materials Innovation and lead author of the study.

Related: Do we really need to mine the deep seas to power EVs?

The world is rapidly transitioning towards green energy and batteries are at the center of this move. Scientists say that it is necessary to make batteries eco-friendly as well.

According to the study published in the journal Matter, they say that traditional batteries could be quite harmful to the environment. For instance, products such as lithium used in batteries can stay in the environment for hundreds or thousands of years. 

Crustaceans such as shrimp, lobsters and crabs have hard skeletons whose cells contain a substance known as chitin. This is a type of polysaccharide that makes the shells hard and resistant. Interestingly, this compound is available widely in nature and is often thrown away as waste in food industries. Scientists believe that the product could be used to improve the performance of batteries. Further researchers have been trying to find out its other uses such as anti-inflammatory treatments and dressing of wounds, among others.

The researchers were able to come up with a cheaper and more renewable battery by combining chitosan electrolyte with zinc. They came up with a battery that is 99.7% energy efficient even after 1000 battery cycles. That is about 400 hours. 3

Further, they found that the batteries are not flammable and they will break down in soil in five months. With leftover recyclable zinc for a closed loop.

“The design of new batteries that are respectful of the environment, cheap and producing high discharge capacity, is one of the more important items that must be developed in the coming years,” said Antonio J. Fernández Romero, professor of material sciences for energy production at the University of Cartagena in Spain.

Via The Guardian

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