Cleaning Up Battery Design
Soap and wax offer an interesting solution to making batteries more efficient and cost effective.
We are an electricity and thereby a battery powered world. But how do we make such technologies more cost effective? Enter paraffin and oleic acid. Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, looking to make electrodes more effective have happened upon a curious occurrence using soap and wax-based mediums.
Clean Technica explains:
The researchers fround that paraffin is an excellent medium on which to grow materials for use in electrodes, a key component of lithium-ion batteries (paraffin is a waxy solid consisting of alkanes, which are organic compounds composed of hydrogen and carbon). Researchers at Pacific figured out that conventional electrodes were losing capacity due to the thickness of the material, but the problem was how to grow smaller particles arranged in neat crystals. They hit upon a method for growing crystals on melted paraffin with a form of soap called oleic acid, then slowly raising the temperature until the wax and soap boil off (for a colorful description of the way lithium-ion batteries work.