Rubber Meets The Road In New Battery Technology

Recycled rubber from old car tyres could soon be powering electric vehicles in new lithium-ion batteries.
Published: Fri 05 Sep 2014

If researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have their way carbon recovered from discarded tyres could soon find new life in lithium-ion batteries.

Anodes for Li-ion batteries

By modifying the microstructural characteristics of the carbon black that is recovered, the researchers are endeavouring to develop a better graphite anode for lithium-ion batteries. The method has numerous advantages over conventional approaches to making anodes for lithium-ion batteries. [Engerati- Batteries For Space – And For Earth?]

The ORNL technique uses a proprietary pretreatment to recover pyrolytic carbon black material, which is similar to graphite but man-made. When used in anodes of lithium-ion batteries, researchers produced a small, laboratory-scale battery with a reversible capacity that is higher than what is possible with commercial graphite materials.

In fact, after 100 cycles the capacity measures nearly 390mAh per gram of carbon anode, which exceeds the best properties of commercial graphite. The researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tyre-derived carbon.

“This kind of performance is highly encouraging,” says team co-lead Parans Paranthaman. “Using waste tyres for products such as energy storage is very attractive not only from the carbon materials recovery perspective but also for controlling environmental hazards caused by waste tyre stock piles.”

Commercial applications

ORNL plans to work with US industry to commercialize the carbon black recovery process and produce lithium-ion cells for automobile, stationary storage, medical and military applications.

Other storage applications for the recovered carbon black material include supercapacitors and sodium ion batteries.

Further reading

Engerati-Recent Advances in Battery Technology Review