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A new technology puts old tires to new use. A substance recovered from the tires called carbon black that's similar to graphite can be used as an anode in lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles and wind and solar energy storage.[/dt_call_to_action]
A research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has figured out how to extract a dense, porous form of carbon black from old tires and turn it into a powerful battery anode. First the tires are ground up and pulverized.
What's left over is chemically pre-treated in a proprietary process and then heated to create the final product, which is chemically similar to graphite, but its greater density and porosity make it better at conducting and storing electrons. In testing, it has achieved an energy density of 390 milliamp hours per gram, significantly higher than graphite.
Today, graphite is the product of choice for making anodes for the lithium-ion batteries so vital to plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. The Oak Ridge team says that anodes made from carbon black perform better and are cheaper to produce than graphite electrodes, which in today’s batteries for PHEVs and EVs makes up about 11% of the material used. The market for everything that goes into making these batteries is expected to top $11 billion a year by 2018, so whoever captures the anode market stands to make a lot of money.
That's why anode research is big business today. Graphene (another carbon-based material) can dramatically increase the performance of lithium-ion batteries, and another research breakthrough that uses hemp to make a graphene-like material, but at substantially lower cost.
One advantage of the Oak Ridge project is that it makes use of old tires that otherwise would just go into a landfill somewhere. So kudos to Oak Ridge for environmental friendliness and figuring out what to do with mountains upon mountains of old tires.
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