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Powered by seaweed: Polymer from algae may improve battery performance
Date:9/8/2011

CLEMSON, S.C. By looking to Mother Nature for solutions, researchers have identified a promising new binder material for lithium-ion battery electrodes that not only could boost energy storage, but also eliminate the use of toxic compounds now used to manufacture the components.

Known as alginate, the material is extracted from common, fast-growing brown algae. In tests so far, it has helped boost energy storage and output for both graphite-based electrodes used in existing batteries and silicon-based electrodes being developed for future generations of batteries.

The research, the result of collaboration between scientists and engineers at Clemson University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, will be reported Sept. 8 in Science Express, an online-only publication of the journal Science that publishes selected papers in advance of the journal. The project was supported by the two universities as well as by a Honda Initiation Grant and a grant from NASA.

"Making less-expensive batteries that can store more energy and last longer with the help of alginate could provide a large and long-lasting impact on the community," said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech's School of Materials Science and Engineering. "These batteries could contribute to building a more energy-efficient economy with extended-range electric cars, as well as cell phones and notebook computers that run longer on battery power all with environmentally friendly manufacturing technologies."

Working with Igor Luzinov at Clemson University, the scientists looked at ways to improve binder materials in batteries. The binder is a critical component that suspends the silicon or graphite particles that actively interact with the electrolyte that provides battery power.

"We specifically looked at materials that had evolved in natural systems, such as aquatic plants which grow in saltwater with a high concentration of ions," said Lu
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Contact: Igor Luzinov
luzinov@clemson.edu
864-656-5958
Clemson University
Source:Eurekalert

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