I love to read stories about creative people coming up with new, amazingly innovative ideas that improve the modern standard of living but also where the manufacturing process is kind to the environment and utilizes renewable resources.
One area today that requires serious innovation is the area of battery production. Not only do today’s lithium-ion batteries come from limited, non-renewable resources, they present disposal challenges as acid leakage from used batteries threatens to pollute the environment.
Enter Maria Stromme.
Maria Stromme, Professor of Nanotechnology at Uppsala University in Sweden is experimenting with making batteries that have electrodes made from none other than algae cellulose!
The first generation of algae battery production has been encouraging as they are very cheap to manufacture and environmentally friendly.
Unfortunately, these renewable algae batteries are not very powerful. Dr. Stromme’s research team is working to change that by increasing the energy density while also keeping the structure of the algae batteries simple and made of renewable materials.
Another goal is to ensure the manufacturing process for the algae batteries doesn’t require much energy so production from start to finish is as green as possible.
Could the polluting lithium-ion batteries of today be completely replaced one day with non-polluting, renewable algae batteries strong enough to power an automobile?
Dr. Stromme’s research team thinks so.
Let’s hope she’s right!
If the manufacturing uses of plant cellulose is interesting to you, check out another story I wrote about cellulose from kombucha cultures being used in the fashion industry for making clothing!
Source: FastCompany, Battery Power, September 2011