There is a high chance the sand under your feet might be the next way lithium ion batteries find their way to upgrade. The project for improving batteries is developed by graduate student Zachary Favors, from University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering. His idea began to take shape when he was at the beach in San Clemente, California. He started looking closely at the beach and discovered it was made mostly of quartz or silicon dioxide and from there the idea of sand in batteries for a better performance was very close. There is currently a supply shortage of graphite, used for the anode part of the battery, which is the negative side that concerns the electronics industry and with that in mind, the link between a day at the beach and some innovative replacement for graphite appeared quite naturally for Favors. Don’t be too surprised tough, earlier improvement of batteries in smartphones, which made them able to resist up to 14 days without charge are due to some similar unexpected ideas.
Sand in batteries means silicon dioxide replacing graphite
The possible solution for replacing graphite is to use silicon dioxide, a component of beach sand. Unfortunately, you will not use sand in your batteries anytime soon, because there seem to be a bit of a problem with its fast degradation and the difficulties in producing it in large amounts, as it is currently necessary.
But the solution is to find a sand which has high quantities of silicon dioxide in it, so that through its processing, the sand will leave behind pure silicon in a sponge-like consistency, due to which batteries will have a better performance and so a better life span. According to Value Walk, this would also mean that cell phones could be charged less often. These were the results of the team of University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering, and they proved that for the pure silicon obtained, the energy density is more than three times higher than for the graphite anode. With that in mind, they published the finding as a paper, “Scalable Synthesis of Nano-Silicon from Beach Sand for Long Cycle Life Li-ion Batteries,” in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. In other simple and short words, the solution is to have sand in batteries for them to work better. Maybe finally our smartphones will truly be mobile computers.