NEW YORK – Indian American Ram Gupta, an assistant professor of chemistry at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, along with his team of students, are looking to transform waste such as green tea leaves into batteries.
“Our idea is to use eco-friendly materials which aren’t reactive with air. We can work these into an active carbon, which is a main ingredient in batteries. It has a very promising future,” Gupta told the Joplin Globe.
According to the Joplin Globe report, the project aims to develop a suitable high-performance; lightweight and safe replacement for lithium batteries, since researchers say that they contain a flammable electrolyte which is pressurized, allowing them to catch on fire easily, under certain conditions.
Gupta said the team has created small batteries from tea leaves and bamboo and is now focusing on creating a hybrid device which mimics the long-lasting power of a battery and the instant charge of a super capacitor.
“Such a battery could be used in anything from a cell phone to an electric car,” said Sanket Bhoyate, a student on the team who dreams to create a safe battery that would charge a handheld device immediately.
“Every day, we have to charge our phone for hours. I feel like if we can have charging for less than a second, that would be my accomplishment if I could do it commercially,” Bhoyate added.
Gupta mentions that tea leaves vary slightly depending on where they were grown and how they are grown thus there is no consistency like the lithium component of lithium batteries which are consistent.
The project is funded partly by the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council.