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Bread Mold Battery

March 29, 2016

Could fungi be a key to safer and longer lasting lithium ion batteries?

Transcript

Qianwei Li and Geoffrey Michael Gadd

An artistic rendering of a carbonized fungal biomass-manganese oxide mineral composite. (Qianwei Li and Geoffrey Michael Gadd)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Fungal batteries. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Red bread mold could boost the performance of lithium ion batteries, according to a new study in Current Biology. Geomicrobiologist Geoff Gadd of the University of Dundee in Scotland and his team found that the fungus breaks down manganese and incorporates the product into its branchlike structures.

GEOFF GADD (University of Dundee):

We’ve really used a fundamental property of a fungus that allows it to make manganese carbonate in this case, that can then be used after heat treatment to make manganese oxide.

HIRSHON:

The researchers then tested the leftover biomass and manganese oxide in lithium ion batteries, and found that they barely lost any of their recharging capacity after 200 cycles. Gadd says lithium ion batteries are used in everything from remote-controlled toys to hybrid electric cars, and fungus-powered versions could help meet a growing global demand. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.