Recycled packing peanuts turn into carbon microsheets that can boost battery power
DENVER — Packed into boxes, foam peanuts provide gentle protection. But stuffed into a lithium-ion battery, they pack a powerful electrical punch, researchers reported March 23 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
When baked and crushed, packing peanuts made of starch or polystyrene transform into irregular fragments of carbon-containing microsheets and nanoparticles. Squeezed into the negative end of a lithium-ion battery, the peanuts’ wee, jumbled remains provide lots of surface area for contact with ion-containing battery fluids, boosting performance during charging and draining. In prototype batteries, the baked peanuts reduced charging times. They also increased the amount of charge that a battery can hold by about 13 percent compared with the maximum capacity of commercial lithium-ion batteries that use graphite.