Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Center for Materials Innovation have made an intriguing discovery regarding crustaceans like crabs and lobsters. They have found that these creatures contain chitin in their shells, a chemical that can be used to generate power for batteries when combined with zinc. This breakthrough could potentially put Maryland on the map for more than just its famous crabs.
A collection of lobsters and shrimp overlaid with text promoting "energyone tech revolutionary battery technology.

Ingenious lithium replacement with 99.7% efficiency after over 400 hours may revolutionize EV Batteries. Spoiler: Crustacean Shells

Maryland, known for its renowned crabs, might soon be recognized for another breakthrough. Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Center for Materials Innovation have made an intriguing discovery. They have found that crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters contain a chemical called chitin in their shells, which can be utilized to power batteries when combined with zinc.

Typically discarded en masse by restaurants due to a lack of alternative uses, these crustacean shells could potentially serve as a valuable resource in the quest for more sustainable batteries. Unlike lithium-ion batteries commonly found in smartphones and laptops, which take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose and have severe environmental consequences during extraction, these shellfish-based batteries are biodegradable and break down in just five months. This decomposition leaves behind recyclable zinc.

Moreover, according to The Guardian’s report on the University of Maryland’s study, chitin-zinc batteries displayed an impressive efficiency rate of 99.7% after over 400 hours of use. Furthermore, these batteries are believed to be produced at scale with low costs.

As the world moves towards cleaner energy sources and endeavors to minimize reliance on dirty energy like coal and methane gas, there will be an increasing demand for affordable and eco-friendly batteries. Crustaceans may offer a potential solution to this need while reducing our dependence on lithium-ion batteries.

Graham Newton, a professor of materials chemistry at the University of Nottingham who specializes in sustainable battery technology but is unaffiliated with the Maryland study, expressed cautious optimism about this exciting development. Newton explained that bridging the gap between promising laboratory results and scalable technologies is often challenging when developing new battery materials.

The University of Maryland’s research opens up exciting possibilities for utilizing abundant waste from crustacean shells as a renewable source for battery production. By repurposing this discarded resource, we not only address environmental concerns associated with lithium-ion batteries but also pave the way for a more sustainable and efficient energy future.

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