To use lignosulfonate to produce energy? It is now possible thanks to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The need to find innovative solutions to produce energy from alternative sources to fossil fuels continues to grow. An exemplary case is the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States, where a team of researchers has studied the potential of lignosulfonate – one of the waste products of the paper industry – in the field of energy storage and has developed an effective and sustainable method to use this biomass in order to build rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries. Sulfur in its elemental form is not conductive but becomes conductive when combined with carbon at high temperatures. However, it can easily dissolve into the battery electrolyte, causing electrodes to deteriorate after only a few cycles. This technique provides an easy way to create an optimal sulfur cathode from a single raw material. But above all it allows sulfur to be trapped in carbon, preventing it from “mixing” with the electrolyte. The team of researchers also stated that the prototype of lithium-sulfur battery, which currently has the size of a watch battery and can be recharged about 200 times, will be further refined in the future by resizing the device to increase the charge/discharge speed and duration of the battery cycle.