Recycling Packing Peanuts Into Batteries

Purdue Chemistry Department Adopts the RightCycle Program

Students in the Chemical Engineering department have found a way to create graphite carbon anodes for lithium batteries from an unusual source, packing peanuts. The process involves breaking down packing peanuts into their carbon form, and from there creating the carbon electrodes the lithium batteries use. 

According to Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Vilas Pol, it all started when Purdue opened up a new lab, "The new lab equipment came in large boxes with numerous packaging peanuts." The process is stated to require very little energy to function, around one-third of the energy to fabricate carbon based material Pol told WLFI News. The anodes that Purdue researchers are creating could outperform current lithium-ion anodes made of graphite, and they have shown to be able to recharge faster as well. 

The work that is being done by Vilas Pol and his students could have quite a large sustainability impact. Pol stated, "packing peanuts take more than 100 years to decompose and this would avoid hurting the environment." By avoiding packing peanuts being sent to landfills, it avoids the chance of the peanuts being introduced into the water system thus affecting the ecosystem. Research is still being conducted.