Tuesday, March 21, 2023
HomeScienceBatteries Made From Crab Shells Could Power Your Future Car

Batteries Made From Crab Shells Could Power Your Future Car

What’s going on?

 Scientists have built a prototype battery from crab electrolyte.

The Reason Why

Regular rechargeable batteries, often made of Lithium-ion, are harmful to the environment because they aren’t biodegradable.

It’s encouraging to see a current push for electric vehicles as a means of mitigating the climate catastrophe. Normal cars pollute the air and contribute to global warming by using fossil fuels; electric cars do not.

There is, however, a catch. As with any other rechargeable product, electric vehicles can’t be used by a lot of people until battery production gets better.
According to Liangbing Hu, director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Materials Innovation, “massive numbers of batteries are being created and consumed, creating the prospect of environmental hazards.” Polypropylene and polycarbonate separators in Lithium-ion batteries require hundreds to thousands of years to degrade, contributing to environmental load.

Yep. Many hundreds to thousands of years. Not to mention the human effort and ethical concerns posed by cobalt mining in states with dubious human rights records. Lithium-ion batteries, however, may be found practically anywhere. If you’re reading this on a mobile device, you’re probably holding one right now. Solar panels that store solar energy may impair their “green” reputation.

That’s all well and good, but it does suggest that Hu may have a novel answer to the battery dilemma.

Thursday, an article explaining Hu and his colleagues’ work was published in Matter, detailing the construction of a biodegradable battery.

What’s so strange? This item is crafted using real crab shells.

Could you repeat that? You had me at “crab shells.” Remember how the entire plus and minus stuff gets confusing when you try to put AA batteries in a TV remote or an Xbox controller?

Electrolytes transfer ions between a battery’s negative and positive terminals. Make sure the (+) and (-) are in the correct places.

The electrolyte in a battery can take many forms, but new research suggests that many common compounds are dangerously combustible or caustic. Harmful substances that don’t break down in nature. Hu and his team relied on a gel electrolyte extracted from a biological substance called chitosan to power their batteries. In a short amount of time, chitosan can be completely broken down.

Hu explained that chitosan was created from chitin. Chitin can be found in a variety of places, such as fungal cell walls, crustacean exoskeletons, and squid ink sacs. Nonetheless, Hu claims that crab exoskeletons contain the greatest concentration of chitosan. Red lobster shells, pink shrimp tails, and, of course, crab claws and legs.

You also know where to find the exoskeletons, right? Tossed seafood, Hu said. Currently, it may be found on the table in front of you.

This feature of the team’s prototype solves two challenges at once. It was estimated in a 2015 Nature study that the world generates between 6 and 8 million tones of unwanted crab, shrimp, and lobster shells annually. In fact, a crab’s meat makes up only roughly 40% of its total weight. There will be a lot of wasted food if that happens.

According to the article, these shells are often discarded by being dumped into a landfill or the ocean, an expensive and environmentally damaging option that can cost more than $100 per tone.
Think about how good it might be for the environment if you recycled all those used battery cases instead of throwing them away.

Zinc battery maintenance latest study found that the chitosan used in the team’s battery prototypes degraded completely within five months, leaving behind a metal component called zinc, which is actually recyclable, in place of the more common lead or lithium found in conventional batteries.

After one thousand cycles, the prototype’s energy efficiency reached 99.7 percent. making it a practical choice for incorporating wind and solar energy storage into existing electrical networks. Zinc batteries aren’t new, but they’re known for being inefficient, so this is good news. The scientists think that the part that can be taken from crab shells could be the key to more success.

Hu estimates that two-thirds of a battery that uses chitosan as an electrolyte can be biodegraded but that the team plans to work on the remaining third in the near future. Hu emphasized the importance of making batteries more environmentally friendly. “I hope that all battery components will be biodegradable in the future,” he stated. Both the substance and the process used to create biomaterials are crucial.



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