School of Engineering and Digital Arts

PhD student, Viktorija Makarovaite, presents research on the green future of batteries (mushroom batteries) at the Paleo-Energetique Expo, Paris

Published: 18/01/2018

Viktorija Makarovaite, PhD candidate in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) was invited to deliver a presentation at the Paleo-Energetique Expo in Paris last month to talk about some of her collaborative work on green energy, specifically mushroom batteries, in association with Kent Fungal Group and the School of Physical Sciences at Kent (SPS, Functional Materials Group).

Started in 2015, the Paleo-Energy project is a new research based knowledge sharing model that integrates the scientific community and crowd-sourcing; a hands-on and open resource for social and technical inventions related to energy, transportation, heating and electricity production. Paleo-Energy aims at exploring inventions that have gone off-patent and at unearthing little-known innovations, so as to provide a new database for researchers in a context in which energy transition is essential.

Additionally, Viktorija, together with Sofia Villar-Perez (School of Physical Sciences’s Functional Materials Group) and Misty Peterson from Kent Fungal Group helped showcase the green future of mushroom batteries at the Folkestone Triennial 2017, a Creative Foundation project, to engage the community in discussion about renewal energy, represented by the ‘Folke Stone’ artwork.

The Creative Foundation approached the University of Kent, and specifically Kent Fungal Group to help on the Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas artwork ‘Folke Stone Power Plant’ for Folkestone Triennial.

This project bridged the divide between art and science, with both equally represented in the ‘Folke Stone’ artwork in order to engage the community in discussion about renewable energy. It symbolises how the environmental impacts of CO2 emission from fossil fuels dominate rapid growth of global energy consumption and highlights the critical need for clean and higher energy storage devices to meet the energy demand.

The “stone” was sitting in front of Folkestone Museum (it has since been decommisioned) and contained innovative organic batteries storing electricity capable of powering the adjacent lamp-post.  The design of sustainable battery systems, through the choice of both raw materials based on abundance and electrode recycling, are essential for the next generation of batteries. The cutting-edge research into sustainable energy is being supported by the team at Kent, as well as a wider network of scientists at universities in several coPrevious research from the University of California Riverside (DOI: 10.1038/srep14575) revealed one remarkable aspect of mushroom biomass anodes which suggested that portobello mushrooms (A. bisporus) are ideal candidates for graphite replacement within lithium ion batteries. This is because as mushroom skin anodes are cycled (charged and discharged) for more than 200 cycles, the batteries capacity seems to actually increase over time. This is the complete opposite of what was expected and has been seen within other organic biomass electrode research.

The research teams from Kent (EDA and SPS) improved upon the published data to produce a functional battery that produces a capacity above 300mAh/g within 100 cycles (Figure 3). This also allowed them to further the research by utilising the mushroom biomass in a ‘slurry’ preparation as a replacement for graphite slurries on conductive foil (as commonly seen in cellular phone batteries).

The mushroom slurry work is still early in research, yet even this shows great potential as a replacement for graphite as it exhibited a capacity of above 200mAh/g for the 40 cycles tested (Figure 3). Unlike most organic biomass materials tested, portobello mushrooms are a highly microporous structures able to transform the conventional Li-ion battery into a low-cost and environmentally friendly system with comparable capacities to graphite. In our journey into a more sustainable future, organic biomass electrodes will provide an easily renewable source of biomaterials for making higher capacity storage units.

To find out more about the work of the Paleo Energetic group, please visit their Facebook site here: https://www.facebook.com/Englishpaleo-energetic-780382202087055/

 

 

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Last Updated: 30/08/2017