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back to article Dying to make greener batteries

A common and ancient plant dye could replace cobalt and help deliver greener lithium-ion batteries, according to a study out of America. Purpurin, an extract of the common Madder plant, turns out to have the right characteristics to use as a cathode, according to research led by The City College of New York (along with Rice …

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Nice for phones, but even better for cars

Currently cobalt is only used in Li-ion batteries for small stuff like phones because while it has the best energy density it's not seen as safe enough to use in larger items more subject to damage like power tools and cars. If this has the same/better energy density it could replace the cobalt in phone batteries and reduce the odd cell phone catching fire, along with shaving a few grams off the weight.

But it would really be a big win for electric cars, as they'd get a longer range due to the higher energy density over the non-cobalt Li batteries they currently use, in addition to its lower weight reducing power required (though it's mostly aerodynamic drag at highway speeds) This also addresses one of the it's-really-not-so-green objections to electric cars.

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Re: Nice for phones, but even better for cars

I was under the impression that the current crop of fully electric vehicles already used Li-ion batteries. The Tesla Roadster and Smart certainly do. The first generation of hybrids used NiMH batteries. I'm not sure if most hybrids still do though as I remember reading the Chevrolet Volt used Li-ion tech for its batteries.

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Re: Nice for phones, but even better for cars

They use Li-ion batteries, but don't use cobalt for the cathode as is done in phones and tablets.

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Dying to make batteries?

I guess the plants die to enable the dyeing process...

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Devil

Re: Dying to make batteries?

They already die to enable the fashion process. On the positive side - another crop for (sub)tropical farmers to grow. On the negative side - cobalt is the least of your worries in terms of toxicity in a Li-ion or Li-poly battery. It is the Lithium itself which you need to worry about.

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Re: Dying to make batteries?

Sadly, the Chinese can continue to hold the world to ransom for "rare" earths.

If only all these miraculous new power storage devices woud come to market soon. I'm tired of waiting.

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Happy

What to call it...

Li-ION (Li-ON) for the Lithium/Cobalt ion batteries

Li-Po for Lithium polymer batteries

Li-Pur? That one may need to be avoided, how about Li-Dye?

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Go

Impressive.

Low temperature process

Potential for dropping into cell mfg process soon (IE <3 years away).

Natural product

However before we start calling it a breakthrough there is 1 question.

What's its energy storage density per unit mass of Purpurin Vs Cobalt?

It shouldbe better but is it?

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Thumb Up

Interesting

This shows not only that there is what seems to be a good alternative but that researchers are looking at organic replacements which will help with long term resources.

Good luck folks!

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Now they 'only' need a plant-based substitute for Lithium. Granted, there is a fair amount of lithium around, it is present in most everything after all, but always as a trace element. That then makes its extraction \ production highly energy intensive. Therefore it's questionable one should ever use phrasing such as 'an environmentally friendly lithium battery'. And, putting a 'clean' label on the battery will guarantee the trashcan to become their home to rest. Not horrible except for the lithium supply being scarce and lithium production an energy sinkhole.

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Technically speaking...

wouldn't the batteries be a redder/pinker/oranger if they're using purpurin?

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can this be right

> recycling of batteries costs 72 kilos of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of battery energy.

that is a shagging eeeeeeenourmous amount of energy. Does anyone else think it a little on the high side? Just wondering.

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