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WORLD Batteries

According to Mark

By Mark Tobola

The last two decades, batteries have become more and more of a part of our lives. In the late 90s when I saw radio control hobbies advertising battery powered battery chargers, I laughed… But for the last ten years or so, they have become commonplace. And this means we need MORE batteries. So, the issue with all these batteries is that most of them are using materials in them that are toxic and hard or nearly impossible to recycle. And they are often coming from countries that don’t really mine them properly or ethically, and also have records of treating their workers very badly.

A number of companies are looking at a source for a different battery material that’s also far less problematic to come by, and also not so harsh on the environment nor the people. They are looking for carbon, which is incredibly versatile, and incredibly good at working inside of batteries. And a good source for it is from, of all things trees. That’s right, the lignin in trees is rich in carbon, and is not hard to extract during lumber processing, and can be used to create a better component for batteries.

The carbon is used in the anode of the battery, and carbon has extremely desirable electrical properties. To make this synthetically, it is usually baked for extended periods of time at high temperatures, often in large, coal-fired facilities in places like China. Whereas getting the carbon from lignin is not anywhere near as intensive or polluting. You still must heat the lignin up, but nowhere near as high of a temperature nor for anywhere near as long.

There is a lot of learning to be done yet on this subject, and at this point the idea is not viable for mass production. The BBC News article I used as my reference for this shorter article pointed out a lot of other bits of information around this topic, too. They even discussed using the lignin to make electrolyte for batteries, too. But for now, a lot of this is in the stages of research and development. But with all the coming demand and rising need for more and more batteries, doesn’t it make sense to source materials from every reasonable and potential supply?

According to Mark

By Mark Tobola

January 11, 2023