Recent advancements in batteries

Many of the resources used to make batteries, such as lithium and pure graphite, are in limited supply or can potentially harm the environment after being disposed of. So, researchers are investigating ways to make batteries last longer, recover compounds from spent batteries or even incorporate alternative components. Below are some recent papers published in ACS journals that report insights into more sustainable technologies and materials to produce the next generation of batteries. Reporters can request free access to these papers by emailing

“Self-Oxygenated Blood Protein-Embedded Nanotube Catalysts for Longer Cyclable Lithium Oxygen-Breathing Batteries”
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
March 23, 2022

Lithium-oxygen, or Li-O2, batteries are candidates for high-capacity, rechargeable energy-storage devices. But as they’re discharged, solid lithium peroxide builds up, and eventually, the system can’t be recharged. Now, researchers demonstrate that hemoglobin proteins — acquired from cow’s blood and embedded inside carbon nanotubes — catalyze the complete removal of these solids during charging, thereby helping extend the rechargeability of this type of battery.

“Alkaline Roasting Approach to Reclaiming Lithium and Graphite from Spent Lithium-Ion Batteries”
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
March 21, 2022

Here, researchers recycled high-purity, high-performing graphite and lithium from dead lithium-ion battery anodes (negative electrodes) without generating harmful waste. They heated spent graphite with sodium hydroxide and then rinsed out most of the impurities, including newly formed lithium hydroxides and salts, with water. Both lithium and sodium hydroxide can be reclaimed from the wastewater, reducing the process’s waste and increasing its profitability.

“Sustainable Nitrogen Self-Doped Carbon Nanofibers from Biomass Chitin as Anodes for High-Performance Lithium-Ion Batteries”
Energy & Fuels
March 16, 2022

In this paper, researchers charred chitin — the main stuff in shrimp, lobster and crab shells — and show that it can be a naturally abundant replacement for graphite in the anode of a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The resulting coin battery could be drained and recharged repeatedly without compromising the high capacity of its full charge. Charred chitin is a renewable source material for successfully generating high-performing and cost-effective lithium-ion batteries, the researchers say.

“Bimetallic Selenide Decorated Nanoreactor Synergizing Confinement and Electrocatalysis of Se Species for 3D-Printed High-Loading K–Se Batteries”
ACS Nano
Feb. 3, 2022

Potassium-selenium, or K-Se, batteries are considered promising for rechargeable energy storage because they’re produced from low-cost, abundant resources. But current versions lose their energy storage capacity very quickly. Here, researchers combined selenium, cobalt and nickel (Se/CoNiSe2) into spherical nanoreactors and 3D printed them into the cathode (positive electrode) of a button battery. The additional metals significantly lengthen the K-Se battery’s lifetime and make the system feasible for commercialization.

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