Oak Ridge, Tennessee – Pittsburgh-, Pensylvania-based science consulting group, RJ Lee Group, has signed an agreement to license a new technology that converts waste rubber into an energy storage material.
The technology was developed by the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and turns rubber sources such as tires into carbon black composites, which can be used in batteries and water filtration devices.
"This process represents a major breakthrough in the utilisation of more than two percent of the nation's solid waste and will materially improve the price and performance of advanced energy storage technologies," said Richard Lee, CEO of the group.
ORNL’s technique uses a proprietary pre-treatment to recover pyrolytic carbon black material, which is similar to graphite but man-made.
When used in anodes of lithium-ion batteries, researchers produced a small, laboratory-scale battery with a reversible capacity that is higher than what is possible with commercial graphite materials. This is attributed to the unique micro-structure of the tire-derived carbon.
After 100 cycles, the capacity measures nearly 390 milliamp hours per gram of carbon anode. This, said the US researchers, exceeds the best properties of commercial graphite.
The ORNL team will collaborate with RJ Lee Group to further develop the technology through a privately funded sponsored research project.
"The next step is to scale up the production of the carbon materials so that we can replicate the lab-scale performance in larger format cells," Parans Paranthama of ORNL said.