Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.
Batteries have two electrodes, called an anode and a cathode. The anodes in most of today’s lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite. Lithium ions are contained in a liquid called an electrolyte, and these ions are stored in the anode during recharging. Now, researchers at Purdue University have shown how to manufacture carbon-nanoparticle and microsheet anodes from polystyrene and starch-based packing peanuts, respectively.
“We were getting a lot of packing peanuts while setting up our new lab,” recalled postdoctoral research associate Vinodkumar Etacheri. “Professor Vilas Pol suggested a pathway to do something useful with these peanuts.”
This simple suggestion led to a potential new eco-friendly application for the packaging waste. Research findings indicate that the new anodes can charge faster and deliver higher “specific capacity” compared to commercially available graphite anodes, Pol said.
The new findings are being presented during the 249th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Denver on March 22-26. The work was performed by Etacheri, Pol and undergraduate chemical engineering student Chulgi Nathan Hong.
“Although packing peanuts are used worldwide as a perfect solution for shipping, they are notoriously difficult to break down, and only about 10 percent are recycled,” Pol said. “Due to their low density, huge containers are required for transportation and shipment to a recycler, which is expensive and does not provide much profit on investment.”
Consequently, packing peanuts often end up in landfills, where they remain intact for decades. Although the starch-based versions are more environmentally friendly than the polystyrene peanuts, they do contain chemicals and detergents that can contaminate soil and aquatic ecosystems, posing a threat to marine animals, he said.
The new method “is a very simple, straightforward approach,” Pol said. “Typically, the peanuts are heated between 500 and 900 degrees Celsius in a furnace under inert atmosphere in the presence or absence of a transition metal salt catalyst.”
The resulting material is then processed into the anodes.
“The process is inexpensive, environmentally benign and potentially practical for large-scale manufacturing,” Etacheri said. “Microscopic and spectroscopic analyses proved the microstructures and morphologies responsible for superior electrochemical performances are preserved after many charge-discharge cycles.”
Commercial anode particles are about 10 times thicker than the new anodes and have higher electrical resistance, which increase charging time.
“In our case, if we are lithiating this material during the charging of a battery it has to travel only 1 micrometer distance, so you can charge and discharge a battery faster than your commercially available material,” Pol said.
Because the sheets are thin and porous, they allow better contact with the liquid electrolyte in batteries.
“These electrodes exhibited notably higher lithium-ion storage performance compared to the commercially available graphite anodes,” he said.
The Latest on: Packing peanut recycling
via Google News
The Latest on: Packing peanut recycling
- Styrofoam recycling event plannedon August 3, 2021 at 6:09 am
Westside Landfill Recycling Center, 60050 Roberts Road, Three Rivers. Event organizers ask that all items be clean. Accepted items include dinnerware, take-out containers, meat and fish trays, egg ...
- Annual plastic usage is getting worseon August 2, 2021 at 9:34 pm
As tightened lockdown measures restricted people from going out to dine or work, there is an increased usage of plastic packaging since the Covid-19 ...
- Annual plastic usage is getting worse - 148,000 tonnes for food packaging aloneon August 2, 2021 at 1:33 am
As tightened lockdown measures restricted people from going out for dining or work, there is an increasing usage of plastic packaging when the COVID-19 pandemic emer ...
- Meaford, community group partner to divert Styrofoam from landfillon July 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm
Meaford is teaming up with a community group to launch by October a pilot project to divert bulky, non-biodegradable Styrofoam packaging from landfill. Council voted this week to proceed with the ...
- Plastic bag ban is weeks away in Washingtonon July 27, 2021 at 12:00 am
When Washington’s single-use plastic bag ban finally goes into effect this fall, shoppers at Thriftway stores in Tacoma and on Vashon Island may hardly notice. It’s a big change for much of the state, ...
- Maine’s New Law Will Finally Make Companies Pay for Recyclingon July 22, 2021 at 1:50 pm
Maine is forcing polluters to clean up their act—by making them pay to recycle their waste. On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills a groundbreaking new law that makes the state the first in the country to shift ...
- Embrace Washington’s delayed plastic bag ban. And brace for more changes next yearon July 22, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Next in the crosshairs: plastic tableware and packing peanuts. Feel free to be annoyed, but better get prepared. | Editorial ...
via Bing News