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Apr 24, 2017 08:39 PM EDT

From Old Glass Bottles to Batteries: The Science of this Low Cost Technology Explored [Video]

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Researchers found a way to transform waste glass bottles into batteries that can be used for electric vehicles and other personal electronics. They used low-cost chemical process to make nano-silicon anodes out of these bottles to create high-performance lithium-ion batteries. This could be a solution to the billions of waste glass bottles that are thrown in landfills.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering came up with the study called "Silicon Derived from Glass Bottles as Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Full Cell Batteries," Science Daily reported. The batteries made out of these waste wine bottles can extend the range of electric vehicles. It can also provide more power for phones, laptops, and other personal electronics with charging them less.

The research was published in "Scientific Reports" and was headed by mechanical engineering professor Cengiz Ozkan and electrical engineering professor Mihri Ozkan. The countless glass bottles in landfills prompted researchers to think of a solution to this issue. Silicon anodes stores 10 times more energy than the ordinary graphite anodes, but they are unstable since they expand or shrink during charge and discharge.

The researchers solved this by downsizing the silicon into their nano-scale size. The team crushed and ground the bottles into fine white powder, which transforms silicon dioxide to nano-structured silicon through magnesiothermic reduction, Electronics 360 reported. After that, the team coated it with carbon to make it more stable.

In the laboratory tests, the batteries made out of waste wine bottles performed better than the traditional batteries. The carbon-coated glass made from silicon electrodes has better electro-chemical performance with a capacity of 1420 mAh//g at a rate of C/2 after 400 cycles. Lead author Changling Li, who is a materials science and engineering graduate student, said one glass bottle has the capacity to provide enough nano-silicon for hundreds of cell batteries, which is equivalent to three-five pouch cell batteries.

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