Diagram showing how mushrooms are turned into a material for battery anodes.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Riverside

Mushroom Powered Cell Phone?

When most of us hear the term “mushroom power” we get an image in our mind of something like this:

Mushroom Power

Mushroom Power

Portabello mushrooms: on the grill; in a salad; powering your cell phone?

Can portabella mushrooms stop cell phone batteries from degrading over time? Researchers think so. They have created a new type of lithium-ion battery anode using portabella mushrooms, which are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to produce.

Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California-Riverside has a husband-and-wife team of professors, Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan who have developed a new greener way to manufacture and improve our mobile battery lives.

Portobello mushrooms heated up to 700 – 1100 degrees Celsius, “This produces porous nanoribbons as an anode material.”

What’s an anode you say? They are the electrodes, a part of a battery through which the electrical current flows through. They are typically made from a rather hazardous process including harsh acids and bases, but here’s the alternative; better at it’s job than what came before it!

Mihri Ozkan “Per ton of natural graphite, 132 kg of highly concentrated sulfuric acid and 120 kg of hydrofluoric acid is used. After washing, roughly 2.3 tonnes of waste water is produced per ton of graphite. This is a serious environmental concern today.”

Here’ the punch line, lets see if we can follow this:

“Embedded into the nanoribbons, there are blind holes that are not originally active,” noted Cengiz.

“Over time, with battery usage, these are opening up. This increases the total surface area of the anode material.”

“And that makes it work better, and more efficiently – the exact opposite of the batteries you’re using now.”

The potential for cross application for this new technology is astonishing, think of everything that you would love to have a battery is that works better the longer you use it, like your car, TV remote control, cardiac pacemaker.

Our inventors are convinced this break though is going to be big, and are currently looking for major car manufactures and other industry leaders to embrace the future.

“The main purpose of buying an electric vehicle is to have zero carbon emission to keep our environment clean.” Mihri says.

“However, if making the batteries used in those cars is causing serious damage to the environment, it kind of defeats the purpose

“In the end, we only have one world to live on.”

University of California – Riverside. “Making batteries with portabella mushrooms: Porous structure of portabella mushrooms is key to making efficient batteries that could power cell phones, electric vehicles.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 2015

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