The global lithium-ion (li-ion) battery market size is currently booming and it is expected to grow from $41.1 billion in 2021 to $116.6 billion by 2030. Thus, it is already a well-established fact that li-ion batteries are an important part of the energy transition.
UI Develops Electric Vehicle Battery Material From Coffee Grounds. Image Credit: Nor Gal/Shutterstock.com
Now, a team of researchers based at the University of Indonesia’s Faculty of Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering Department (DTMM FTUI) have developed a novel use for used coffee grounds as a material for li-ion batteries. What’s more, this material has been specifically designed to be used for electric vehicle batteries.
The idea was originally published in the Journal of Cleaner Production and further developed this year.
The idea to use coffee came from the fact that the research team saw an abundance of waste coffee grounds and in the spirit of good research, they soon discovered that the grounds could be turned into graphene.
Li-ion batteries come in all shapes and sizes these days and they can use a number of different materials in their composition. The most frequently used Li-ion batteries are found in portable electronic devices such as cellphones and laptops, these batteries use a combination of lithium cobalt oxide (cathode) and graphite (anode).
Common cathode materials used in EVs and hybrid automobiles include lithium manganese oxide and lithium iron phosphate. Li-ion batteries tend to use either – a class of organic compounds – as an electrolyte.
Lithium-ion batteries are highly desired for their features: high energy density, high discharge power, and long service life. These properties have facilitated astonishing progress in portable electronics technology and enabled mass distribution of important technology devices throughout all levels of society.
Therefore, their application in electric vehicles (EVs) and large-scale storage systems make them a potential solution to tackle the current environmental challenges related to energy and resource conservation.
While Li-ion batteries deliver a lot on their promise, they are not without their drawbacks. Li-ion batteries can be prone to safety issues (such as overheating which can be a fire hazard), and they require frequent and long charging cycles to maintain their power.
The FTUI team processed the coffee grounds into graphene to increase the conductivity of lithium titanate oxide (LTO). They also used coconut shell waste – which was turned into active carbon – as an additive to the anode active material. Using these materials can improve battery charging times and make them much safer.
Head of the Lithium-Ion battery development research team at FTUI, Anne Zulfia Syahrial, explained that the benefits of using LTO reduce the possibility of short circuits occurring during the charging process: “Our team attempts to overcome the weaknesses of mixing Sn or Si and active carbon from coconut shell waste into composites. We also turn coffee waste grounds into graphene which will be mixed with LTO,” Syahrial stated.
Another exciting feature of the innovative batteries is that the electrical current they produce is more stable than common, conventional graphite lithium batteries – currently the most widely deployed for EV use.
The team also stressed that the coffee-based graphene produces nanoparticles that have a large surface area which allows more ions to pass through the material than in conventional batteries, and as a consequence, produces a better energy flow.
As the development of the coffee-based batteries was conducted with EVs in mind, the team revealed that utilizing innovative materials can reduce the overall weight of the battery - they believe they can produce a working battery that weighs around 200 kg.
When compared with today’s conventional EV batteries that on average weigh 500 kg, a significantly lighter battery would increase vehicle mileage – meaning fewer charging cycles – and improve the time it takes to produce a full charge.
The team is targeting a 15 minute time to reach a full charge which is a significant improvement on today’s average charge time which is around 6 hours with a 7 kw (level 2) fast charge. Some manufacturers claim a full charge can be achieved in just 30 minutes, but this often depends on access to rapid superchargers.
The University of Indonesia Engineering Faculty Dean Hendri D.S. Budiono believes that this pioneering research may be useful for the development of Indonesia’s electric vehicle industry. He is hoping that the industry will realize the potential and utilize this innovation and upscale it for commercial use.
The research shows that Indonesia has a huge potential to become a market leader in terms of EV batteries, with the abundance of materials that can be used to produce batteries that are available in Indonesia’s nature
Dean Hendri D.S. Budiono, Faculty, The University of Indonesia
An exhibition of FTUI’s recent research and innovation can be accessed as part of a virtual tour of the faculty.
Santosa, B. (2021, November 4). UI Develops Electric Vehicle Battery Material From Coffee Grounds. VOI - Waktunya Merevolusi Pemberitaan. https://voi.id/en/news/100776/ui-develops-electric-vehicle-battery-material-from-coffee-grounds
Fernando Luna-Lama, Daily Rodríguez-Padrón, Alain R. Puente-Santiago, Mario J. Muñoz-Batista, Alvaro Caballero, Alina M. Balu, Antonio A. Romero, Rafael Luque, (2019) Non-porous carbonaceous materials derived from coffee waste grounds as highly sustainable anodes for lithium-ion batteries, Journal of Cleaner Production, (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618330324).