Friday, June 21, 2013: In an era where it is cool to be environmentally aware, scientists at the University of Maryland have come up with a formula for batteries that can be counted as cool. These batteries have wood as a major element in their formation, besides fiber and sodium, making them sodium powered batteries. Sodium-ion batteries are, incidentally considered less powerful and efficient than their lithium-ion counterparts. That doesn’t however mean that these batteries can’t be useful.
According to the team of these scientists, these wooden batteries might not end up within your smartphone or your laptop or in any other fancy gadget, but they are extremely useful for storing power on a large scale basis, given the fact that they are good for storing electrolytes as they can swell and contract many times over.
The side effect of the process, which will lead to erosion in battery capacity is the fact that the wood wrinkles due to the stress involved, but this doesn’t stop the battery from working, In fact, according to the claims of these scientists, the batteries can be charged and recharged over 400 cycles and have a capacity of 339 mAh/g. This will only increase as the scientists better the design.
Large scale production, however, is still some way off as what has been revealed is a working prototype at best. The discovery, however, does bode well for the future given the fact that, this is, in essence a low cost, environmentally friendly battery tech.
“The inspiration behind the idea comes from the trees. Wood fibers that make up a tree once held mineral-rich water, and so are ideal for storing liquid electrolytes, making them not only the base but an active part of the battery,” says Hu, an assistant professor of materials science, at the University.