Colombian researchers develop prototypes of fruit-based batteries

The Plasma Physics Research Group of the National University of Colombia (UNAL) in Manizales has been working for the last six months on the prototype of an organic battery that is as effective as the ones available in the market. Since they are made with plant waste materials, such as banana peels, sugarcane bagasse or avocado seeds, they don't present the contaminating effects of conventional batteries.

Professor Favio Nicolas Rosero Rodriguez, from the Department of Physics and Chemistry of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and the leading researcher in renewable energy and organic batteries at the UNAL Manizales, said that people throw their old batteries in the trash end and they end up in large wastelands mixed with other waste. There, the rains and liquids secreted by the decomposition of other elements wear the batteries out until the cadmium or mercury within them, which are their most polluting chemical components, leak out and disperse until they contaminate rivers and water sources. According to data from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, a single battery can contaminate up to 100,000 liters of water.

Researchers used three typical products of the Coffee Area in the research, bananas, avocados, and sugarcane, in different scientific processes to find out, among other things, their components. These organic components were analyzed in their crystalline, microscopic, and molecular levels. This led them to discover that, after some processes, the banana peel, the avocado seed, and sugarcane bagasse were suitable as a raw material for the research.

In the next phase of the investigation, researchers will create three battery prototypes with each of the products. This will allow them to identify the efficiency of each of these materials, based on the performance of the batteries available in the market.

Daniel Pineda, of the Plasma Physics Research Group and the person in charge of operating the equipment that will determine the efficiency of the organic batteries, said, “We expect the durability of the new battery to be as good as that of any other normal lithium battery. We expect this research demonstrates that it is possible to solve numerous problems by exploring renewable organic materials. ”

This research will allow easily discarding the organic batteries after their useful life ends, as they will decompose and even work as a fertilizer.

Source: UN / DICYT / 

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