Recycling Tires into Batteries

Thursday, August 28, 2014 @ 06:08 PM gHale

By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, it may be possible for recycled tires to come to life in lithium-ion batteries that provide power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar.

Carbon black is the recoverable substance from discarded tires and that may develop a better anode for lithium-ion batteries, said a Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) research team led by Parans Paranthaman and Amit Naskar. An anode is a negatively charged electrode used as a host for storing lithium during charging.

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The method has advantages over conventional approaches to making anodes for lithium-ion batteries.

“Using waste tires for products such as energy storage is very attractive not only from the carbon materials recovery perspective but also for controlling environmental hazards caused by waste tire stock piles,” Paranthaman said.

The ORNL technique uses a proprietary pretreatment to recover pyrolytic carbon black material, which is similar to graphite but man-made. When used in anodes of lithium-ion batteries, researchers were able to produce a small, laboratory-scale battery with a reversible capacity that is higher than what is possible with commercial graphite materials.

After 100 cycles, the capacity measures nearly 390 milliamp hours per gram of carbon anode, which exceeds the best properties of commercial graphite. Researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tire-derived carbon.

“This kind of performance is highly encouraging, especially in light of the fact that the global battery market for vehicles and military applications is approaching $78 billion and the materials market is expected to hit $11 billion in 2018,” Paranthaman said.

Anodes are one of the leading battery components, with 11 to 15 percent of the materials market share, said Naskar, who noted the new method could eliminate a number of hurdles.

“This technology addresses the need to develop an inexpensive, environmentally benign carbon composite anode material with high-surface area, higher-rate capability and long-term stability,” Naskar said.

ORNL plans to work with U.S. industry to license this technology and produce lithium-ion cells for automobile, stationary storage, medical and military applications.

Paranthaman and Naskar wrote a paper entitled, “Tailored Recovery of Carbons from Waste Tires for Enhanced Performance as Anodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries.”

Click here to view the abstract or to purchase the paper.

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