Dying to Make Greener Batteries

Dying to Make Greener Batteries

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A common and ancient plant dye could replace cobalt and help deliver greener lithium-ion batteries, according to an American study. Purpurin, an extract of the common Madder plant, turns out to have the right characteristics to use as a cathode, according to research led by The City College of New York (along with Rice University and the US Army Research Laboratory).

In a paper published in Nature, the researchers observe “reversible lithium ion storage properties of a naturally occurring and abundant organic compound purpurin, which is non-toxic and derived from the plant madder.” More simply, purpurin’s molecule has aromatic rings with carbonyl and hydroxyl groups that can perform the cathode’s task of passing electrons around – meaning that it can serve in the place of cobalt in the lithium battery.

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