Billions of glass bottles end up in landfill sites each year. It also happens that batteries are notoriously lagging behind other fields of technology.
So, putting two and two together, scientists at University of California, Riverside, are turning glass bottles into high-storage batteries to use in electric vehicles, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Their work was recently published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
“We started with a waste product that was headed for the landfill and created batteries that stored more energy, charged faster, and were more stable than commercial coin cell batteries," lead author Changling Li, a graduate student in materials science and engineering, said in a statement. "Hence, we have very promising candidates for next-generation lithium-ion batteries."
The researchers utilized the silicon dioxide found in waste glass bottles to provide silicon nanoparticles for use in the lithium-ion batteries. This was used to make the anodes of the battery, the negative electrode where electrons flow out towards the rest of the circuit.
Waste glass bottles are turned into nanosilicon anodes using a low-cost chemical process. University of California, Riverside
To produce it, they simply started by grinding the bottles into a sugary powder. It then got a little more complicated by using magnesiothermic reduction to transform the silicon dioxide into nanostructured silicon. They finished off by coating the nanoparticles with carbon to enhance their energy-storing properties.
Just one glass bottle provides enough nanosilicon to do this for anodes of hundreds of coin cell batteries or up to five pouch cell batteries. Best of all, they store almost four times more energy than conventional graphite anodes.
The university behind the project has also filed a patent application for their inventions. So, who knows, perhaps in the near future your smartphone battery could be utilizing the power of crushed-up glass bottles, all while lasting a few hours longer.