Fossilised algae could enable cheaper, longer-range EVs
Researchers in California have discovered a cheaper and greener way to produce long-range lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, using fossilised algae.
Lithium-ion batteries typically feature graphite anodes; a material which limits their performance. Silicon anodes offer ten times the energy capacity, but the material is produced at very high temperatures making it expensive and energy-intensive to manufacture.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering discovered that pure silicon nano-partiles can also be extracted from diatomaceous earth (DE), an abundant sedimentary rock formed from fossilised single-cell algae called diatoms. The extraction via chemical reaction is a much more energy-efficient process than normal silicon production.
The research, led by engineering professors Mihri Ozkan, and Cengiz Ozkan, and co-authored by materials science and engineering graduate, Brennan Campbell, is published in the journal Scientific Reports.