Scientists have found a way to convert foam flakes, small pieces of foam that are used as filling in packaging, into material for building lithium-ion batteries: electrodes can be built from them.
The new production method was developed at Purdue University. They came up with the idea to use foam flakes as a raw material because they received a lot of the material at the research department. As a result, they decided to see if something useful could be done with it.
According to the scientists, it is easily possible to make material from foam flakes to build electrodes with. These can then be used in lithium-ion batteries. By heating the material to above 500 degrees and in the presence of a catalyst based on a metal salt, it is then suitable for use in batteries. According to the developers, the production process is environmentally friendly. It is also possible to make the electrodes considerably thinner on the basis of foam flakes than with conventional production methods. In addition, the electrical resistance is lower, which should shorten the charging time.
The researchers point out that only 10 percent of foam flakes used in packaging worldwide are recycled. The method for making electrodes for batteries is also cheap, which offers prospects for doing it on a larger scale. It is not yet clear whether there are plans for this: the scientists first want to improve the performance of the new electrodes.