Mind & Matter


Algae Batteries

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Algae blooms are rarely considered desirable occurrences. Their presence is typically associated with an environmental imbalance, such as increased run-off of fertilizer or other pollutants. However, scientists at Sweden’s Uppsala University have found a new use for the especially unwanted algae called Cladaphora. By extracting the large amount of cellulose generated by the plant, the researchers have been able to produce a conducting polymer that can be used to make rechargeable batteries. Test results reveal the algae batteries are 50-200% more effective than batteries made with similar polymers, and one day they may be competitive with standard lithium batteries. Nanotechnologist Maria Strømme suggests the new paper-like algae batteries might be used to make interactive wallpaper or diagnostic clothing.




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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.