Making batteries from waste glass bottles

Making batteries from waste glass bottles
Waste glass bottles are turned into nanosilicon anodes using a low cost chemical process. Credit: UC Riverside

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have used waste glass bottles and a low-cost chemical process to create nanosilicon anodes for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries will extend the range of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and provide more power with fewer charges to personal electronics like cell phones and laptops.

Titled "Silicon Derived from Glass Bottles as Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Full Cell Batteries," an article describing the research was published today in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. Cengiz Ozkan, professor of mechanical engineering, and Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical engineering, led the project.

Even with today's recycling programs, billions of glass bottles end up in landfills every year, prompting the researchers to ask whether in waste beverage bottles could provide high purity silicon nanoparticles for lithium-ion batteries.

Silicon anodes can store up to 10 times more energy than conventional graphite anodes, but expansion and shrinkage during charge and discharge make them unstable. Downsizing silicon to the nanoscale has been shown to reduce this problem, and by combining an abundant and relatively pure form of silicon dioxide and a low-cost chemical reaction, the researchers created lithium-ion half-cell batteries that store almost four times more energy than conventional graphite anodes.

Credit: University of California - Riverside

To create the anodes, the team used a three-step process that involved crushing and grinding the glass bottles into a fine white power, a magnesiothermic reduction to transform the silicon dioxide into nanostructured silicon, and coating the silicon nanoparticles with carbon to improve their stability and energy storage properties.

As expected, coin cell batteries made using the glass bottle-based silicon anodes greatly outperformed traditional batteries in laboratory tests. Carbon-coated glass derived- (gSi@C) electrodes demonstrated excellent electrochemical performance with a capacity of ~1420 mAh/g at C/2 rate after 400 cycles.

Changling Li, a graduate student in materials science and engineering and lead author on the paper, said one bottle provides enough nanosilicon for hundreds of coin cell batteries or three-five pouch cell batteries.

"We started with a waste product that was headed for the landfill and created batteries that stored more energy, charged faster, and were more stable than commercial coin cell batteries. Hence, we have very promising candidates for next-generation ," Li said.

This research is the latest in a series of projects led by Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan to create from environmentally friendly materials. Previous research has focused on developing and testing anodes from portabella mushrooms, sand, and diatomaceous (fossil-rich) earth.


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More information: Changling Li et al, Silicon Derived from Glass Bottles as Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Full Cell Batteries, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01086-8
Journal information: Scientific Reports

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Apr 19, 2017
Do they really expect us to believe that this will have any effect on the recycling of glass? Glass does not get recycled because it is not economically feasible to do so when all of the costs are considered. Thus, even if their process does work new glass will be utilized. The green movement constantly shoots itself in the foot with preposterous claims.

Apr 19, 2017
SH A good idea or product can stand on it's own merits. The fact that they chose to characterize the process as a way to utilize recycled glass led me to believe that they do not think that the research was very valuable on it's own. Say that you claimed to find a cure for lung cancer using a vaccine created from fermented oranges. If your headline said that you found a use for rotting fruit you discovery would appear to have a lot less credibility.

Apr 20, 2017
Glass does not get recycled because it is not economically feasible to do so when all of the costs are considered.


I've seen refilled glass beer bottles from the 90's still in circulation.

The problem with glass recycling is the separation, because glasses come in different chemical compositions with different properties, and when you chuck beer bottles in with plate glass and pickle jars, you can't just melt it again and expect to make useful glass anymore.

But here they're simply crushing glass down for the silicon dioxide, so it doesn't matter what type of glass it is. It's a source of high purity silicon, much like silica sands, but cheaper since people give it to you for free.

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