October 26, 2015
While materials scientists pride themselves on their development of many technologically useful materials, they're often outclassed by nature. At the time I was doing research in superconductivity, our laboratory was using so much liquid helium that it was economical to have our own liquefaction plant. The helium liquefier that we used had gaskets made from natural leather, since it was an inexpensive material capable of maintaining flexibility at low temperatures.
Integrated circuit manufacturers have used apricot pits as an abrasive for deflashing plastic IC packages. Apricot pits, as well as walnut shells, are ideal media for this application, since they have the proper mechanical properties, they're non-toxic, and they don't produce problematic mineral dust.
There's another reason to love apricots. Along with mulberries and other natural products, they're mentioned as an aphrodisiac in Shakespeare's, A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
Mushrooms are a common and inexpensive natural product. Although my colleague corporate scientists and I used to joke about the mushroom management of our companies, we didn't see anything technologically useful about mushrooms as a material source. Now, materials scientists from the University of California, Riverside, have found that pyrolyzed carbon derived from Portobello mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) acts as an excellent anode material for lithium-ion batteries.[2-3]
First, a word about nomenclature. In my reading of the references for this article, I found that people use alternative spellings for "Portobello mushroom." As shown in the figure, a Google Search finds 927,000 websites in which the mushroom is spelled as "Portobello," about half as many using "Portabella," and a considerable number using two other spellings. This must be how written languages without vowels developed. The preferred spelling is "Portobello."
Carbon is a typical anode material for lithium-ion batteries, and its usual source is synthetic graphite produced by pyrolysis of sucrose. The porosity of the graphite, which results in a high surface area, is important to the anode application, so a subsequent treatment is required to "activate" the carbon. The usual activation process involves exposing the material to concentrated potassium hydroxide (KOH), and then heating to create mesopores and/or micropores, and this allows a battery capacity of more Than 1100 mA-h/g.
Treatment with a strong base like KOH is not environmentally friendly, and that has encouraged scientists to look for a biomass replacement. Engineers at the University of California, Riverside, decided to look at mushroom biomass, since mushrooms have naturally high porosity. For mushrooms, this porosity is important to allow the absorption of water and air. Furthermore, mushrooms have a high concentration of potassium salts, which would allow pore growth during use.
The process for creation of carbon anode material from Portobello mushrooms, a two-stage pyrolysis, is shown in the above figure. Oxygen-rich organic compounds and potassium compounds in the mushroom skins create inner void spaces in carbon nanoribbons, and the resulting material is analogous to activated carbon. The pyrolysis at 900°C produces a hierarchically porous material with pore size ranging from sub-nanometer to tens of nanometers.
While conventional activated carbon anodes allow the lithium ions to fill most of the material during the first few cycles, the battery capacity degrades after that time since electrode damage occurs. The Portobello mushroom material behaves differently. Says Brennan Campbell, a graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering at UC Riverside, and a co-author of a paper about this research,
Hop in his walks and gambol in his eyes;
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries,
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees,
And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs
And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes,
To have my love to bed and to arise;
"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."
The Portobello mushroom anode material was shown to have a significant capacity increase for charge/discharge cycles beyond the number for conventional anodes. The anodes had a capacity of more than 260 mAh/g after 700 cycles.
The six million electric vehicles forecast to be built by 2020 would require nearly 900,000 tons of graphite for battery anodes.Clearly, a "green" manufacturing process is required. The UC Riverside research team is developing prototype pouch batteries based on this novel type of anode. Patents have been filed.
- William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," via Project Gutenberg.
- Brennan Campbell, Robert Ionescu, Zachary Favors, Cengiz S. Ozkan, and Mihrimah Ozkan, "Bio-Derived, Binderless, Hierarchically Porous Carbon Anodes for Li-ion Batteries," Scientific Reports, vol. 5, article no. 14575 (September 29, 2015), doi:10.1038/srep14575, This is an open access paper with a PDF file available here.
- Sean Nealon, "Making Batteries with Portabella Mushrooms," University of California, Riverside, Press Release, September 29, 2015.
Permanent Link to this article
Linked Keywords: Materials science; materials scientists; technology; material; nature; research; superconductivity; laboratory; liquid helium; economics; economical; liquefaction of gases; liquefaction plant; gasket; leather; flexibility; cryogenics; low temperature; integrated circuit; semiconductor device fabrication; manufacturer; apricot; abrasive; deflashing; epoxy; plastic; IC package; walnut shell; mechanical properties; toxicity; non-toxic; mineral dust; atom; cubic crystal; Turkey; list of countries by apricot production; metric ton; United States; US; United States Department of Agriculture; Wikimedia Commons; Morus; mulberries; natural product; aphrodisiac; Shakespeare; A Midsummer Night's Dream; mushroom; colleague; corporate; scientist; joke; mushroom management; University of California, Riverside; Portobello mushroom; anode; lithium-ion battery; mycology; pileus; Lisa Redfern; nomenclature; Google Search; website; written language; vowel; vote; Gnumeric; carbon; chemical synthesis; synthetic; graphite; pyrolysis; sucrose; porosity; surface area; activated carbon; potassium hydroxide; battery capacity; ampere-hour; mA-h; gram; base; environmentally friendly; biomass; engineer; absorption; water; air; concentration; potassium; salt; battery; desiccation; dehydrate; pyrolysis; hierarchy; hierarchical; nanoribbon; oxygen; organic compound; potassium; chemical compound; nanometer; ransmission electron microscopy; transmission electron micrograph; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License; ion; charge cycle; postgraduate education; graduate studen; Materials Science and Engineering; co-author; scientific literature; paper; research; mobile phone; cell phone; charge/discharge cycle; electric vehicle; forecast; prototype; patent; William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Latest Books by Dev Gualtieri
Thanks to Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing for his favorable review of Secret Codes!
Blog Article Directory on a Single Page
- J. Robert Oppenheimer and Black Holes - April 24, 2017
- Modeling Leaf Mass - April 20, 2017
- Easter, Chicks and Eggs - April 13, 2017
- You, Robot - April 10, 2017
- Collisions - April 6, 2017
- Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) - April 3, 2017
- Old Fossils - March 30, 2017
- Levitation - March 27, 2017
- Soybean Graphene - March 23, 2017
- Income Inequality and Geometrical Frustration - March 20, 2017
- Wireless Power - March 16, 2017
- Trilobite Sex - March 13, 2017
- Freezing, Outside-In - March 9, 2017
- Ammonia Synthesis - March 6, 2017
- High Altitude Radiation - March 2, 2017
- C.N. Yang - February 27, 2017
- VOC Detection with Nanocrystals - February 23, 2017
- Molecular Fountains - February 20, 2017
- Jet Lag - February 16, 2017
- Highly Flexible Conductors - February 13, 2017
- Graphene Friction - February 9, 2017
- Dynamic Range - February 6, 2017
- Robert Boyle's To-Do List for Science - February 2, 2017
- Nanowire Ink - January 30, 2017
- Random Triangles - January 26, 2017
- Torricelli's law - January 23, 2017
- Magnetic Memory - January 19, 2017
- Graphene Putty - January 16, 2017
- Seahorse Genome - January 12, 2017
- Infinite c - January 9, 2017
- 150 Years of Transatlantic Telegraphy - January 5, 2017
- Cold Work on the Nanoscale - January 2, 2017
- Holidays 2016 - December 22, 2016
- Ballistics - December 19, 2016
- Salted Frogs - December 15, 2016
- Negative Thermal Expansion - December 12, 2016
- Verbal Cues and Stereotypes - December 8, 2016
- Capacitance Sensing - December 5, 2016
- Gallium Nitride Tribology - December 1, 2016
- Lunar Origin - November 27, 2016
- Pumpkin Propagation - November 24, 2016
- Math Anxiety - November 21, 2016
- Borophene - November 17, 2016
- Forced Innovation - November 14, 2016
- Combating Glare - November 10, 2016
- Solar Tilt and Planet Nine - November 7, 2016
- The Proton Size Problem - November 3, 2016
- Coffee Acoustics and Espresso Foam - October 31, 2016
- SnIP - An Inorganic Double Helix - October 27, 2016
- Seymour Papert (1928-2016) - October 24, 2016
- Mapping the Milky Way - October 20, 2016
- Electromagnetic Shielding - October 17, 2016
- The Lunacy of the Cows - October 13, 2016
- Random Coprimes and Pi - October 10, 2016
- James Cronin (1931-2016) - October 6, 2016
- The Ubiquitous Helix - October 3, 2016
- The Five-Second Rule - September 29, 2016
- Resistor Networks - September 26, 2016
- Brown Dwarfs - September 22, 2016
- Intrusion Rheology - September 19, 2016
- Falsifiability - September 15, 2016
- Fifth Force - September 12, 2016
- Renal Crystal Growth - September 8, 2016
- The Normality of Pi - September 5, 2016
- Metering Electrical Power - September 1, 2016
Deep Archive 2006-2008