A team from the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have created a low-cost chemical process to utilize waste glass bottles to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries.
Despite modern recycling programs, billions of glass bottles wind up in landfills each year, prompting researchers to wonder whether silicon dioxide in these bottles could be utilized to create high-purity silicon nanoparticles to provide power for electric vehicles and personal electronics.
Silicon anodes can store up to ten times more energy than conventional graphite anodes. However, expansion and shrinkage can make them unstable, a problem that has been solved by downsizing the silicon to the nanoscale. Combining readily available silicon dioxide and a low-cost chemical process resulted in the researchers creating lithium-ion batteries that store almost four times as much energy as conventional graphite anodes.
The team, led by Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering, and Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, the team used a three-step process involving crushing and grinding the bottles into a fine white powder, using a magnesiothermic reduction to transform that silicon dioxide into nanstructured silicon, and then coating the silicon nanoparticles with carbon to increase their stability and storage properties.
This research is the latest in a series of projects led by the Ozkans to create lithium-ion battery anodes from environmentally friendly materials, including portabella mushrooms, sand, and diatomaceous earth.
To learn more about this project, click here.