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Discarded glass bottles to fuel next-generation batteries

United States – ‘Even with today’s recycling programmes, billions of glass bottles end up in landfills every year,’ note researchers at the University of California. But they have made an exciting discovery; silicon dioxide present in post-consumer beverage bottles can provide high purity silicon nanoparticles for lithium-ion batteries.

To create the battery anodes, the team used a three-step low-cost chemical reaction process.

This involves crushing and grinding the glass bottles into a fine white power, a magnesiothermic reduction to transform the silicon dioxide into nanostructured silicon, and coating the silicon nanoparticles with carbon to improve their stability and energy storage properties.

Silicon anodes can store up to 10 times more energy than conventional graphite anodes, however expansion and shrinkage during charge and discharge make them ‘unstable’, the researchers point out. Downsizing silicon to the nanoscale is able to greatly reduce this issue.

Better yet, the researchers managed to create lithium-ion half-cell batteries that store almost four times more energy than conventional graphite anodes.

This breakthrough for next-generation lithium-ion batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Besides, it will provide more power with fewer charges to laptops, tablets, smartphones and other consumer gadgets. 

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