Apple and Google just announced new tablets and smartphones touting the latest technological advances, but one thing those devices can't brag is a battery made with portobello mushrooms. According to new research from engineers at the University of California at Riverside, however, future gadgets might.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports on Tuesday, researchers from the university's Bourns College of Engineering describe how they created a new type of high-carbon lithium ion battery component using heat-treated nanoribbons from the skins of portobello mushrooms.
They did that in an attempt to replace synthetic graphite as the current industry standard for anodes, or positive terminals. Synthetic graphite has a high manufacturing cost because it requires significant chemical preparation and activation, researcher Mihri Ozkan told UCR Today. Moreover, the preparation process uses a series of acids and bases that are harmful to the environment, so researchers from a number of institutions are searching for alternatives that are inexpensive, easy to produce and environmentally friendly.
Portobello mushrooms are an ideal candidate to replace synthetic graphite for a multitude of reasons, the researchers say. The mushrooms become just the right kind of porous when heated to about 1,100 degrees Celsius (2,012 degrees Fahrenheit), giving them much more space for liquid and air to pass through. This heat-treatment creates more room for the storage and transfer of energy and, theoretically, better batteries.