To the Lab – Mushroom Batteries

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 3:07 pm

Mushrooms might have a new purpose outside of being grilled on the BBQ and thrown into a delicious burger. They could power everything from our smartphones or our cars.

Researchers from the university’s Bourns College of Engineering describe how they created a new type of battery using the skins of portobello mushrooms.

Caleb Withers, a Sci Tech educator explained the science behind it all.

Mushroom batteries

“Portabello mushrooms seem an unlikely material for use in electronics, but the structure of their ribbon-y underside is ideal for the storage of lithium ions.

When the water is removed and the mushroom ribbons are heated to 1100C it can be used in traditional lithium batteries.” Said Withers.

“What’s more is that the salts that normally sit inside the mushroom ribbon get displaced or removed as the battery is used, leaving room for more lithium ions. This means that the battery mushroom could last even longer than a normal battery.

“The good thing about using mushrooms instead of batteries is that mushrooms are biodegradable, so that’s one less thing that will pollute the environment once you throw your battery away.”

PODCAST: Caleb Withers with Christine in To the Lab

Another advantage of using mushroom power is that it’s biodegradable. That’s one less thing that will pollute the environment once you throw your battery away. Unlike lithium batteries the remains can be made into a delicious soup. (lithium soup, anyone?)

The days of replacing standard batteries with mushrooms are still far away though, as the technology is still in it’s infancy. You could say there’s mush room for improvement.

toad

Maybe Toad’s kart will one day be powered by his head. Source: Nintendo

To the lab is a weekly segment where Christine looks at a different science subject with the educators at Sci Tech.

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