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Mushrooms Can Be Used To Make Environmentally Friendly Batteries, Researchers Say

Sep 30, 2015 02:04 PM EDT
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Researchers from the University of California, Riverside, have turned to a unique material to boost battery performance – portabella mushrooms. As it turns, the tasty fungi can be fashioned into batteries that are environmentally friendly and cheaper to produce than conventional batteris. Mushroom-based batteries may even answer the problem of energy storage degradation for frequently recharged electronics like cell phones.

"With battery materials like this, future cell phones may see an increase in run time after many uses, rather than a decrease, due to apparent activation of blind pores within the carbon architectures as the cell charges and discharges over time," Brennan Campbell, a graduate student in the Materials Science and Engineering program at UC Riverside, said in a new release.

With advanced technology and the development of eclectic cars, scientists anticipate that there will be an increased need for batteries in the future, making the requirement of a cheaper and more sustainable source more pressing.

Currently,  batteries are manufactured using synthetic graphite, a material that is very costly to produce and extremely harmful to the environment, the release noted.

That's where using biomass comes into play. Biomass is a biological material that comes from living or recently living organisms. Researchers were drawn to the substance's obvious benefits: high carbon content, low production cost, and environmental friendliness.

(Photo : UC Riverside)
This diagram illustrates how mushrooms are turned into a material for battery anodes.

Mushrooms are particularly porous, which allows for better pass-through of liquid and air. That's important for battery performance, since pores create more space for the storage and transfer of energy. Mushrooms also have a high potassium salt concentration, which aids in battery capacity. Ultimately, these batteries could replace graphite anodes altogether.

"Nanocarbon architectures derived from biological materials such as mushrooms can be considered a green and sustainable alternative to graphite-based anodes," Cengiz Ozkan, one of the study's authors noted.

Campbell's findings were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports

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