The introduction of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries It has revolutionized many sectors of the industry. Battery-powered devices of this type have become ubiquitous. However, the success of these batteries has resulted in an extraordinary increase in their demand, which will be increasingly difficult to satisfy, and in the problems derived from having to exploit resources that are finite.
Only a very small percentage of lithium-ion batteries are recycled, increasing the demand for cobalt and other chemical elements with high strategic value, whose obtaining basically depends on mining.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Texas A&M University in the United States has achieved a revolutionary breakthrough that could lead to battery production no longer depending on cobalt or other metals.
Jodie Lutkenhaus, Karen Wooley and their colleagues have come up with a new class of electric batteries, which are completely metal-free. The new batteries are based on polypeptides, which are components of proteins.
The polypeptide batteries they are degradable, recyclable, non-toxic and generally safer.
Graphical representation of a battery of recyclable and metal-free polypeptides. (Illustration: Texas A&M University College of Engineering)
By putting aside the lithium, as well as cobalt and any metal, by moving to work with these polypeptides, not only does it avoid having to depend on mining, but applications that until now were not feasible become feasible, such as safely energizing implantable electronic devices and recycling in a much easier way the new batteries.
Regarding the latter, the components of polypeptide cells can degrade on demand under acidic conditions to generate amino acids, other comparable substances and degradation products that do not involve risks, and this constitutes one of the main advances in this line of research and development. . (Source: NCYT from Amazings)