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article imageNext electric cars could use sand-based batteries

By Joe Duarte     Jul 9, 2014 in Environment
Riverside - The next generation of electric vehicles (EVs) may run on a new lithium ion battery made from beach sand, according to new research at the University of California, Riverside.
And it could reportedly outperform the current crop of batteries by 300 percent.
“This is the holy grail — a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes,” Zachary Favors — a graduate student at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, who came upon the idea while relaxing on a beach — told the website
Focusing on the negative side of the battery (the anode), Favors and the other graduate students in the research team set about using the sand to replace the current anode material (graphite, which is nearing its full potential to supply the extra power today’s electronics demand).
However, it’s not as easy as pouring sand into a plastic battery casing. The sand has to have a high quartz (silicon oxide) content, which is then purified and mixed with salt and magnesium, in order to remove the oxygen.
The processed silicon material was used in a watch battery, returning performance improved three times over that of a current battery. Fashioned into larger batteries, the team envisions mobile phones that would need to be recharged every three days, and electric vehicles that could travel three times farther on a single charge of batteries that will last three times longer (the lifespan of the current EV battery is estimated at about five to seven years, or roughly 160,000 km). That would alleviate EV owners’ range anxiety and save them thousands of dollars when it comes time to replace the batteries.
The UC Riverside research group was headed by the husband and wife team of Cengiz and Mihri Okzan, whose nanotechnology research is developing devices 25,000 times thinner than a human hair, to deliver chemotherapy doses directly to cancer cells without harming surrounding tissue.
A report on the sand-based lithium ion battery research was published in the July 2014 edition of Nature Scientific Reports, authored by Favors, the Ozkans, and graduate students Wei Wang, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zafer Mutlu, Kazi Ahmed and Chueh Liu.
More about electric vehicles, Lithium ion, Lithiumion, Lithium ion batteries, Lithiumion batteries
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