We’re really glad to report this story in July, when a lot of our fellow Michiganders are hitting the beach. (We'll get to the real news in a minute, but first, let's listen to this Pure Michigan Minute.)
Now to the news: researchers at the University of California Riverside are reporting a breakthrough that promises to significantly reduce the price of the lithium ion batteries that the electric-vehicle industry relies on.
And the secret? Beach sand.
“This is the holy grail--a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high-performance lithium-ion battery anodes,” said Zachary Favors, a UC Riverside graduate student, in a story published by Charged EVs.
“A number of scientists have explored the possibility of replacing graphite with silicon as a material for anodes, but so far, most have found that nanoscale silicon degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities,” the story noted.
Favors found a particular variety of sand that contains a high percentage of quartz, milled it down, purified it, and ended up with a material that looks like powdered sugar.
There’s more science to the story, of course. And we’ve heard promises of battery breakthroughs before. But right now, we’re glad to see efforts going on in labs all across the country that will make EVs more economical. And if they don’t have enough sand in California, we have plenty of it here in Michigan.