Study shows electric car batteries can be powered from crustacean byproduct

Published on
November 24, 2022
Lobser shells

A newly published academic study has found chitin to be a plausible sustainable energy source for electric vehicles

The paper, "A sustainable chitosan-zinc electrolyte for high-rate zinc-metal batteries," was authored by University of Maryland Professor Liangbing Hu, was published in September 2022 in the scientific journal Matter. 

Chitin is the primary material in the exoskeletons of many crustaceans, including crab, shrimp, and lobster. A battery made with chitin-derived chitosan and zinc developed by Hu showed an energy efficiency of 99.7 percent after 1,000 battery cycles, the study found.

Hu told Newsweek the battery can be used for internal combustion engines or to store energy generated by large-scale wind and solar arrays for transfer to power grids. But the key improvement the batteries could bring to the commercial space is greater affordability and sustainability, Hu said.

“Vast quantities of batteries are being produced and consumed, raising the possibility of environmental problems,” Hu said. “For example, polypropylene and polycarbonate separators, which are widely used in lithium-ion batteries, take hundreds or thousands of years to degrade and add to environmental burden.”

Chitin has already found commercial use in medicines, pesticides, fertilizers, and as an edible film on foods. 

Photo courtesy of Toasted Pictures/Shutterstock 

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