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Technology Update (March 2016)

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Bee pollen boosts battery performance

According to a new research, bee pollen could play an important role in battery research. Scientists at Purdue University, USA, have been researching ways to make better batteries, and have recently discovered that pollen grains and their unique microstructures could be put to use as an efficient type of energy-storage unit.

The scientists were trying to improve on conventional lithium-ion batteries, which have an anode made of carbon (usually graphite) and a cathode made of lithium-cobalt-oxide. The electrolyte that runs through the battery is made of lithium salts.

They found that if they could turn pollen into a carbon anode with a more useful microstructure than graphite, they might be able to create a battery with the ability to store more energy. So they took pollen from honeybees and cattails, and turned these into little pieces of carbon. They superheated a section of bee pollen and a section of cattail pollen to 1112°F (600°C) in a space that was filled with argon gas, which stops carbon from burning up.

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They then reheated the pollen based carbon pieces to create more empty pockets in the pollen structure, which increases their capacity to store energy.


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