In an effort to develop a more affordable, plentiful alternative to lithium-ion batteries, researchers from Purdue University are pursuing rechargeable potassium based batteries, demonstrating a way to derive carbon for battery electrodes from old tires.
“With the growth of rechargeable batteries for electronic devices, electric vehicles and power grid applications, there has been growing concern about the sustainability and cost of lithium,” says Vilas G. Pol, an associate professor in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University and former member of ECS. “In the last decade, there has been rapid progress in the investigation of metal-ion batteries beyond lithium, such as sodium and potassium.”
Researchers in the field believe that potassium based batteries show potential for large-scale grid storage due to their low cost and the abundance of the element itself.
“The intermittent energy generated from solar and wind requires new energy storage systems for the grid,” Pol says. “However, the limited global availability of lithium resources and high cost of extraction hinder the application of lithium-ion batteries for such large-scale energy storage. This demands alternative energy storage devices that are based on earth-abundant elements.”
Pol and his team detailed their findings in three papers. One paper, published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, demonstrates how the team derived carbon from waste tires to create carbon anodes for a potassium-ion battery.
“The recycling of waste-tire rubber is of critical importance since the discarded tires pose serious environmental and health hazards to our society. Here, we report a new application for hard-carbon materials derived from waste tires as anodes in potassium-ion batteries,” Pol says. “This study demonstrates how material engineering of carbon can address some of the issues resulting from bulkier potassium-ion intercalation, and may bring possible strategies to improve performance of these batteries in the future.”
Pol’s paper, “Sustainable Potassium-Ion Battery Anodes Derived from Waste-Tire Rubber,” is available open access in the ECS Digital Library.