Scientists are turning waste paper into battery parts for smartphones and electric vehicles

Scientists are turning waste paper into battery parts for smartphones and electric vehicles

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graphic abstract. attributed to him: additive manufacturing (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.addma.2022.102992

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a technology to turn waste paper, from single-use packages and bags, and cardboard boxes, into a core component of lithium-ion batteries.

Through a process called carbonization which turns the paper pure carbonNTU researchers have turned paper fibers into electrodes, which can be made rechargeable batteries It powers cell phones, medical equipment, and electric vehicles.

To carbon paper, the team exposed the paper to high temperatures, which reduced it to pure carbon, water vapor, and oils that can be used for biofuels. Because carbonization occurs in the absence of oxygen, this emits trace amounts of carbon dioxide, and the process is an environmentally friendly alternative to discarding kraft paper through incineration, which produces significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

The carbon anodes produced by the research team also demonstrated superior durability, flexibility, and electrochemical properties. Laboratory tests have shown that the anodes can be charged and discharged up to 1,200 times, which is at least twice as durable as the anodes in current phone batteries. Batteries using NTU-made anodes can also withstand greater physical stress than their counterparts, absorbing breaking energy up to five times better.

The method developed by NTU also uses less energy-intensive processes and Heavy metals Compared to current industrial methods for manufacturing battery anodes. Such as the anode Equal to 10% to 15% of the total cost of a lithium-ion battery, the latter method, which uses low-cost waste materials, is also expected to lower its manufacturing cost.

The results have been published in the journal additive manufacturing in October.

Use paper waste As a raw material for the production of battery anodes, it will also relieve our dependence on traditional sources of carbon, such as carbon fillers and carbon-producing binders, which are mined and subsequently treated with harsh chemicals and machinery.

NTU Singapore scientists turn waste paper into battery parts for smartphones and electric vehicles

Associate Professor Lai Changquan, of NTU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is the lead scientist who developed a technology for creating anodes from waste paper. Credit: NTU Singapore

Paper waste, which consists of cardboard bags, newspapers and other paper packaging, accounted for nearly a fifth of the waste generated in Singapore in 2020.

Kraft paper bags, which make up the bulk of Singapore’s waste paper, have also been found to have significant environmental impacts compared to their cotton and plastic counterparts, due to their greater contribution to global warming when burned and the potential for environmental toxicity in production. them, a separate 2020 NTU study found.

The current innovation that presents an opportunity to recycle waste products and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, accelerating our transition towards a circular economy, green materials, and clean energy, reflects NTU’s commitment to mitigating our impact on the environment, which is one of the four major human challenges that the university seeks to address through Its NTU 2025 strategic plan.

Associate Professor Lai Changquan, of NTU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who led the project, said, “Paper is used in many aspects in our daily lives, from gift packaging and arts and crafts, to countless industrial uses, such as heavy-duty packaging, packaging Protective, filling voids in construction, however, little is done to manage them when disposed of, besides incineration, which generates high levels of carbon emissions due to their composition.

“Our way of giving kraft paper another lease of life, transforming it into the growing need for devices such as electric cars and smartphones, will not only help reduce carbon emissions, but it will also reduce reliance on mining and heavy industry methods.”

The research team has filed a patent application with NTUitive, NTU’s innovation and enterprise company. They are also working on commercializing their invention.

A recipe for greener battery parts

To produce the carbon anodes, NTU researchers joined forces and laser-cut several thin sheets of kraft paper to form various lattice geometries, some of which resemble a spiky pinata. The paper was then heated to 1,200 degrees Celsius in an oven without the presence of oxygen, to convert it into carbon, and to form the anodes.

The NTU team attributes the superior toughness, flexibility, and electrochemical properties of the anode to the arrangement of the paper’s fibers. They said the combination of strength and mechanical toughness exhibited by NTU-made anodes would allow phone, laptop and car batteries to better resist shock from drops and accidents.

Current lithium battery technology relies on internal carbon electrodes that gradually crack and collapse after physical shock falls, which is one of the main reasons why battery life is getting shorter over time.

The researchers say their anodes, which are stronger than the current electrodes used in batteries, will help address this problem and extend the life of batteries in a wide range of uses, from electronics to electric vehicles.

Study co-author Mr Lim Guo Yao, a research engineer from NTU College of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said, “Our anodes displayed a range of strengths, such as toughness, shock absorption, and electrical conductivity, which are not found in current materials. These demonstrate structural and functional properties Paper anodes made from kraft paper are a sustainable and scalable alternative to existing carbon materials, and will find economic value in high-end, multifunctional applications, such as the emerging field of structural batteries.”

Professor Lai added: “Our method converts a common and ubiquitous material – paper – into another highly durable and much-needed material. We hope our anodes will serve the world’s rapidly growing need for a greener, sustainable material for batteries, which improper manufacturing and waste management has shown to be They have a negative impact on our environment.”

To highlight the importance of the work by the Cornell research team, Professor Juan Hinestroza of Cornell University’s Department of Human-Centered Design, who was not involved in the research, said, “Because kraft paper is produced in very large quantities and is similarly discarded in Worldwide, I believe the creative approach pioneered by researchers at NTU Singapore has great potential to impact on a global scale.

“Any discovery that will allow waste to be used as a raw material for high-value products such as electrodes and foams is indeed a major contribution. I believe this work may open a new avenue and motivate other researchers to find pathways to transform other cellulose-based substrates, such as textiles and packaging materials, that are otherwise discarded.” in large quantities all over the world.

The NTU team will conduct further research to improve the energy storage capacity of their materials and reduce energy consumption Thermal energy required to convert paper into carbon.

more information:
Chang Quan Lai et al, The Exceptional Energy Absorption Properties and Compressive Resilience of Refined and Sustainably Derived Functional Carbon Foams from Additive-Synthesized Kraft Paper, additive manufacturing (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.addma.2022.102992

the quote: Scientists Turn Waste Papers into Battery Parts for Smartphones and Electric Vehicles (2022, November 23) Retrieved November 23, 2022 from

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