Batteries that use silicon extracted from sand, lasting three times longer that current batteries, are said to replace graphite batteries. These batteries are being developed by researchers at the University of California in the United States. The study was published in Scientific Reports and a patent has been filed for.
Scientists have been trying to find a substitute for the anode of lithium-ion batteries so that batteries can last longer. They considered silicon which has the capacity to store 10 times the energy than current products but is hard to be produced in large quantities.
Graduate student Zachary Favors once noticed that sand is made of silicon dioxide and he thought that this silicon could be extracted to make batteries. He and his team worked to make the silicon into a coin-sized lithium-ion battery which increases battery life three times that of conventional batteries.
Darren Quick of Gizmag's explained, "Favors started milling the sand down to the nanometer scale before putting it through a series of purification steps that gave it a similar colour and texture to powdered sugar. He then ground salt and magnesium into the purified quartz and heated the resulting powder. In this very simple process, the salt acted as a heat absorber while the magnesium removed oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon."
Favors and his team have said that the improved performance of the nano-silicon electrode could be expected to equate to a threefold increase in battery life for devices such as mobile phones, which would only need to be recharged every three days rather than every day, and electric vehicle batteries that last three times longer, cutting down on expensive replacement costs.
Favors and his team are hoping to produce the nano-silicon in larger quantities and make them into pouch-sized batteries similar to those used in mobile phones.