Researchers Find Use For Recovered Carbon In Batteries

Researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE)’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), have found positive results in the use of carbon recovered from scrap tires in the manufacture of anodes for lithium-ion batteries.

By modifying the microstructural characteristics of the carbon black material, recovered from scrap tires, a team led by Parans Paranthaman and Amit Naskar is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries. An anode is a negatively charged electrode used as a host for storing lithium during charging.

Tire Recycling Equipment

The method has numerous advantages over conventional approaches to making anodes for lithium-ion batteries, the researchers said in a paper published in RSC Advances.

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 390 milliamp hours per gram of carbon anode, which exceeds the best properties of commercial graphite. Researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tire-derived carbon.

“This kind of performance is highly encouraging, especially in light of the fact that the global battery market for vehicles and military applications is approaching $78 billion and the materials market is expected to hit $11 billion in 2018,” Paranthaman said.

Anodes are one of the leading battery components, with 11 to 15 percent of the materials market share, according to Naskar, who noted that the new method could eliminate a number of hurdles.

“This technology addresses the need to develop an inexpensive, environmentally benign carbon composite anode material with high-surface area, higher-rate capability and long-term stability,” Naskar said.

ORNL plans to work with U.S. industry to license this technology and produce lithium-ion cells for automobile, stationary storage, medical and military applications.

Other researchers and co-authors of a paper titled “Tailored Recovery of Carbons from Waste Tires for Enhanced Performance as Anodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries,” are working on a pilot manufacturing process to scale up the recovery of material and demonstrate applications as anodes for lithium-ion batteries in large-format pouch cells. Researchers expect these batteries to be less expensive than those manufactured with commercial carbon powders.

The research on conversion of recycled tires to graphite powders was funded by the laboratory’s Technology Innovation Program while the research on battery fabrication and electrochemical testing was sponsored by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division. Transmission electron microscopy research was supported by ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a DOE Office of Science user facility.

© Scrap Tire News, October 2014