Science 2 min read

Using Shrimp Shells to Create Batteries for Renewable Energy Storage

Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

Andrey Bayda / Shutterstock.com

A joint team of researchers from Spain and the U.S. suggest using chitin, a material from shrimp shells, to create a new form of energy storage.

Turning shrimp shells into batteries for storing energy may seem a bit far-fetched. But it’s not — at least not as much as you might imagine.

Over the years, we’ve discovered various renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and even air humidity. Unfortunately, these sources rely on weather conditions, which makes them unpredictable.

So, we use batteries — usually lithium-ion cells — to store energy from renewable sources. That way, a particularly sunny or windy day won’t go to waste.

Now, a team of Spanish researchers and colleagues from MIT are proposing a new energy storage option.

In a statement, a chemical engineer and one of the study authors, Francisco Martin- Martinez said:

“We propose to produce these vanadium flow battery electrodes from chitin, a material from shrimp shells, which, in addition to carbon, contains nitrogen.”

The researchers described the process in their published article in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Using Shrimp Shells to Produce Electrodes for Vanadium Flow Batteries

Vanadium redox flow batteries don’t provide as much energy density as the lithium-ion batteries in cars.

However, they offer an ample volume of energy storage at a low cost. This makes the vanadium redox flow batteries perfect for storing energy from renewable sources with intermittent production such as solar and wind.

To produce the vanadium batteries electrodes, the scientists relied on readily-available chitin. “We have produced these electrodes from chitin, a material from shrimp shell,” says Martin- Martinez.

Chitin is a polysaccharide similar to cellulose. And it’s found in the exoskeleton of insects and crustaceans such as shrimp.

Along with carbon, chitin also contains nitrogen, which the researchers incorporated into the electrode’s production process. This resulted in a mild improvement in battery performance.

Martin- Martinez noted:

“Obviously, there are carbon electrodes that can yield better performance, but the key to this project is to produce such electrodes from waste material, in this case, chitin from shrimp shells.”

Currently, manufacturers produce similar electrodes from carbonized polyacrylonitrile, a synthetic polymer. By comparison, chitin is a more sustainable alternative and could help create cheaper batteries.

Read More: Nonflammable Electrolyte Could Make Potassium Batteries Safe

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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