High Impact Practices Student Showcase Spring 2024

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Dr. Karin Chumbimuni-Torres

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About the Author

Arielle Myerson and Lauren Whetstone are undergraduate students studying Materials Science and Engineering. Both have a passion for the environment and are interested in sustainable materials. Special thanks to the UCF Arboretum for providing information for this project, and X-Batt for providing materials and allowing the use of their lab.

Abstract, Summary, or Creative Statement

Lithium ion (Li-ion) battery technology typically requires graphite as the conductive material for the anodes. Graphite is an unsustainable material which is either synthetically manufactured from fossil fuels or mined and imported. To replace graphite anodes, silicon-based materials such as silicon oxycarbide (SiOC) can be used along with bio-based carbon sources to make even more energy-dense anodes than traditional graphite. The lignins that comprise plant cell walls are an excellent biological source of carbon. Therefore, invasive weeds, such as Emilia Sonchifolia (lilac tassel flower) are a good candidate for building sustainable Li-ion batteries. In this research, the weeds were collected, dehydrated, pyrolyzed, milled, sieved, and added to SiOC to create anodes. These anodes were used to build half-cell coin batteries. The batteries were run through several cycles on a cyclic voltammogram, and the specific capacity of each cycle was measured. Compared to traditional graphite, the specific capacity was higher, showing that they are more energy-dense, but the large drop in specific capacity between the first and second cycles indicates that they are unstable. Future research could be done to improve the cell with prelithiation techniques, and other bio-sources such as Kudzu, a fast-growing invasive vine found in Southeast America, could be explored.


sustainability;materials science;electrochemistry;battery;batteries

Weeds to Wealth: Upcycling Emilia Sonchifolia to Biobased Batteries