October 7, 2015

Candle soot can power the batteries of electric cars, researchers find

Left image: candle soot being deposited on stainless steel. Right image: high resolution microscopy
image of carbon nanoparticles from candle soot; the inset shows the candle soot deposited on a
substrate. (The images were featured in the original research article by Kakunuri and Sharma in
Electrochimica Acta, October 2015).

The carbon in candle soot could be a better option for lithium batteries

(October 7, 2015)  For centuries, they have been used to light the way, tell the time and banish bad smells. Now researchers say candles could be the key to cheaper, more efficient electric car batteries. But how would this work, and why has no one thought of it before?

“Generally we overlook the simpler things; candle soot is not new, but we’re only now looking at it as a potential source of carbon,” said Dr. Chandra Shekhar Sharma, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Hyderabad, India. In fact, as a carbon source, candle soot may be more effective than what’s currently available for making powerful batteries.

Dr. Sharma and his colleague Dr. Manohar Kakunuri came across a study published a few years ago in Science that showed candle soot has superhydrophobic surface properties. “If you put a water droplet on candle soot, it rolls off. However, from the material’s perspective, candle soot carbon has electric potential. So why not use it as an electrode?” asked Dr. Sharma. “We looked into it and saw it also shows some exceptional electrochemical properties, so we decided to test it further.”

In a new study published in Electrochimica Acta, Dr. Sharma and Dr Kakunuri found that because of the shape and configuration of the tiny carbon nanoparticles, the carbon in candle soot is suitable for use in powerful lithium ion batteries. What’s more, because candle soot can be produced quickly and easily, it is a scalable approach to making batteries.

journal reference (Open Access)  >>