A researcher holds a battery component.

Eco-friendly battery swaps fossil fuels for soybeans

Batteries are helpful for storing energy, but a lot of battery components aren’t exactly eco-friendly. Researchers from the Kansas Polymer Research Center at Pittsburgh State University invented a new kind of battery that replaces fossil fuel-derived components with materials made from something less environmentally taxing: soybeans.

These batteries also present economic opportunities by creating a new market for a crop that already is plentiful in the Midwest.

“We’re using the stems, the leaves, the shells — things that would otherwise have no commercial value — to produce activated carbon material and suddenly that has tremendous value,” associate professor of chemistry Ram Gupta said in a news release.

“This is important to farmers, to jobs, to green energy.”

A patent is pending for the soy-based batteries. When it is finalized, this battery technology will be available for licensing to commercial buyers.

The polymer researchers will continue to advance this type of technology to make batteries that are even more eco-friendly.

“Our ultimate goal is to produce a dual carbon battery, with both electrodes made of biomass instead of just one, and to achieve a more efficient battery that can be used in the automobile industry that charges in just 10 to 15 minutes instead of a few hours,” Gupta said.

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