Innovation That Matters

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Boosting electric vehicle batteries with seaweed

Mobility & Transport

Materials from Scottish-grown seaweed could hold the key to improving the lifespan and charge time of lithium-ion batteries, used for electric vehicles

Spotted: The more we improve fossil-fuel-free vehicles, the greener the transportation sector will become. And, according to The University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry, Scottish-grown seaweed may be the unlikely key holder to making electric vehicles (EVs) more enticing for buyers. More specifically, the team is currently testing whether it will help improve the life span and charge time of lithium-ion batteries, used to power EVs. 

A material found in brown seaweed might help develop batteries using silicon instead of graphite. Although graphite is a central component of a lithium-ion battery, it can only store a limited amount of charge and has a restricted lifespan. Replacing it, then, is vital to improving the charging capacity, with silicone being suggested as a viable alternative. The only issue is that when silicon is used on its own, it damages the battery quickly. So, to couple an increased need to store energy with an increased battery lifespan, the team have created a prototype that combines silicone with a material in seaweed. 

“Battery technology is going to play a hugely important role in our transition away from fossil fuels. Electric vehicles, renewable energy production, national grids and other critical elements of a net zero future will depend on having batteries that can store large amounts of energy in the smallest volumes possible and with extended lifetimes,” said Professor Duncan Gregory, chair in Inorganic Materials at the University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry. 

Using funding from the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC), the team has so far produced a prototype the size of a watch battery, with tests showing promising results. To prove that seaweed can boost charging capacity, the researchers are now looking towards making a larger battery to test the technology at scale. 

Springwise has previously spotted other innovations that aim to improve electric vehicles (EVS), including a 3D-printed prototype that could improve EV engine efficiency and a battery manufacturer that makes EVs less likely to catch on fire.

Written By: Georgia King



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