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07/24/2013

A wooden battery is being developed. Imagine the potential

Wind

Researchers at the University of Maryland believe their "wooden battery" has the potential to be developed for use on solar plants and wind farms to store vast quantities of energy quickly. (Toronto Star file photo)

Wooden batteries. Two words to send you into a tizzy.

It is a thing and here is the lowdown on it: scientists at the University of Maryland have created an environmentally-friendly battery made of wood.

Teng Li and Liangbing Hu, and their team, have come up the tiny battery the battery that uses wood fibres. The fibres are coated with carbon nanotubes and packed into small disks of metal. The sodium ions moving around in the "wood fibres create an electric current."

The wooden batteries are made from fibres that are at least 1,000 times thinner than a single sheet of paper.  

(It uses sodium ions instead of lithium ions that are found in mobile phone batteries.)

The research team noticed that after charging and discharging the battery over time, the wood ended up wrinkled but still stayed intact.

These new batteries, say obsevers, could prove to be useful in storing large amounts of solar energy.

Hu told The Daily Mail that the inspiration for the battery came from trees.

“Wood fibres that make up a tree once held mineral-rich water and so are ideal for storing liquid electrolytes, making them not only the base but an active part of the battery,” he said to The Daily Mail.

When will it be commercially available? It’s not yet known.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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