Strong ultralight material could aid energy storage, carbon capture

Read the full story from Rice University.

Materials scientists showed that fine-tuning interlayer interactions in a class of 2D polymers can determine the materials’ loss or retention of desirable mechanical properties in multilayer or bulk form.

Team finds major storage capacity in water-based batteries

Read the full story from Texas A&M University.

Researchers at Texas A&M University have discovered a 1,000% difference in the storage capacity of metal-free, water-based battery electrodes.

These batteries are different from lithium-ion batteries that contain cobalt. The group’s goal of researching metal-free batteries stems from having better control over the domestic supply chain since cobalt and lithium are outsourced. This safer chemistry would also prevent battery fires.

Chemical engineering professor Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus and chemistry assistant professor Dr. Daniel Tabor has published their findings about lithium-free batteries in Nature Materials. 

DOE awards $2M to Ohio University to develop products for energy storage and motors from coal waste

Read the full story at Green Car Congress.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding six research and development projects that will repurpose domestic coal resources for high-value graphitic products and carbon-metal composites that can be employed in clean energy technologies. (Earlier post.)

Ohio University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment was awarded two of the six awards, one that explores how coal waste can be reimagined as energy storage and the second aims to develop ultra-conductive carbon metal composite wire for electric motors.

The DOE awarded $999,976 to support the first project, which will focus on developing electrochemical processes to convert coal-based materials to two-dimensional carbon materials for supercapacitor applications. The project is led by principal investigator John Staser, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Additionally, OHIO faculty members Jason Trembly, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment, and Damilola Daramola, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will support this project, alongside industry partners CFOAM LLC and Capacitech Energy.

Federal panel hones in on materials, manufacturing as top research needs for floating offshore wind

Read the full story at Utility Dive.

Achieving the Biden Administration’s goal of cutting floating offshore wind development costs by 70% will require advanced manufacturing and materials science, agency leaders said during a Wednesday afternoon roundtable at the Department of Energy’s Floating Offshore Wind Summit.

Marine environments create harsh conditions that call for more durable materials such as advanced composites, said Susan Margulies, who heads the Directorate for Engineering at the National Science Foundation. The NSF recently launched a call for proposals for research initiatives that could lead to the discovery of new materials.

Manufacturing these materials, as well as other needed components, will present another key challenge, Margulies said. “Rather than constrain innovation to the manufacturing we have today, we should explore the frontiers of manufacturing itself.”

Mushroom skins could be the secret to recyclable electronics

Read the full story in Anthropocene Magazine.

Plastic boards used in electronic devices and batteries are near-impossible to recycle, so researchers devised a sustainable alternative made from biodegradable mushroom skin.

Getting it to stick: Grabbing CO2 out of the air

Read the full story from the University of Pittsburgh.

Direct air capture is hard to do. Researchers are now designing new materials that selectively catch carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Ammonia may unlock secrets to cleaner, greener energy

Read the full story from Johns Hopkins University.

Does the secret to cleaner energy lie in a common household cleaner?

With its unmistakable smell and astringent nature, ammonia is used to combat household grime, from greasy stovetops to soap-scummed bathroom tiles. Now, a Johns Hopkins chemical and materials engineer thinks it may also hold the key to cleaner, more sustainable energy.

Michael Tsapatsis, the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of nanomaterials with appointments in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is leading a team that is investigating how to efficiently manufacture ammonia and its potential uses in creating clean fuel technologies.

The three-year, $4.2 million project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and is part of its $540 million overall initiative aimed at supporting research and developing new technology to reduce carbon emissions and advance clean energy. Ammonia has potential as a liquid storage medium as it does not produce carbon dioxide when burned.

A sea change for plastic pollution: New material biodegrades in ocean water

Read the full story from UC San Diego.

Plastics, now ubiquitous in the modern world, have become a rising threat to human and environmental health. Around the planet, evidence of plastic pollution stretches from grocery bags in the deep sea to microplastics in our food supplies and even in our blood.

Seeking solutions to counteract the rise in plastic trash, scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed new biodegradable materials that are designed to replace conventionally used plastic. After proving their polyurethane foams biodegrade in land-based composts, an interdisciplinary team of scientists including UC San Diego biologist Stephen Mayfield and chemists Michael Burkart and Robert “Skip” Pomeroy have now shown that the material biodegrades in seawater. The results are published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Print, recycle, repeat: Scientists demonstrate a biodegradable printed circuit

Read the full story from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

According to the United Nations, less than a quarter of all U.S. electronic waste gets recycled. In 2021 alone, global e-waste surged at 57.5 million tons, and only 17.4% of that was recycled. 

Some experts predict that our e-waste problem will only get worse over time, because most electronics on the market today are designed for portability, not recyclability. Tablets and readers, for example, are assembled by gluing circuits, chips, and hard drives to thin layers of plastic, which must be melted to extract precious metals like copper and gold. Burning plastic releases toxic gases into the atmosphere, and electronics wasting away in landfill often contain harmful materials like mercury, lead, and beryllium.

But now, a team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have developed a potential solution: a fully recyclable and biodegradable printed circuit. The researchers, who reported the new device in the journal Advanced Materials, say that the advance could divert wearable devices and other flexible electronics from landfill, and mitigate the health and environmental hazards posed by heavy metal waste.  

Silk offers an alternative to some microplastics

Read the full story from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers have developed a biodegradable system based on silk to replace microplastics added to agricultural products, paints, and cosmetics.