scorecard‘Crab batteries’ could be powering your houses and electric vehicles in the future!
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‘Crab batteries’ could be powering your houses and electric vehicles in the future!

‘Crab batteries’ could be powering your houses and electric vehicles in the future!
SustainabilitySustainability2 min read
As the world moves away from fossil fuel-based energy, one factor continues to throttle the green transition: the battery.

We feel this burden especially strongly in electric vehicles (EVs), one of the poster children of our sustainable move. If we want EVs to become more attractive to the general audience, we need to significantly improve their mileage ratings — something that is hard to accomplish without better and bigger battery packs.

The problem is the fact that raw materials that go into such batteries are so excruciatingly rare. This is precisely why the nation goes into an elated tizzy everytime we discover a new lithium deposit in India.

Car makers from China to Nevada and Chile are already locking horns in a race to maximise their acquisition of this "white gold". As the number of EV manufacturers inadvertently skyrocket, a stage is being set for things to turn more dire.

The reason everyone is so bloodthirsty for this stuff is because lithium-ion batteries are the best by far, with an unending number of uses from reliably powering EVs to your house's emergency power backup systems to the batteries in your laptops.

However, we also have a new contender in Zinc-ion batteries, widely considered safer than lithium-ions. Furthermore, zinc is far more abundant than lithium and much cheaper, albeit at the cost of a lowered power output and longevity. Furthermore, they're much more environmentally friendly than lithium counterparts as well.

For these reasons, many manufacturers are looking into improving zinc-ion batteries as an alternative to the lithium king. As production ramps up, we will eventually have to look into obtaining raw materials more sustainably.

And surprisingly enough, we might have a very unexpected ally in this regard: crabs!

The discarded hard outer shells of crabs, lobsters and shrimps contain a chemical called chitosan. When this is converted into a gel and combined with zinc-ion batteries, researchers have found that it helps extend the battery's lifespan to a year instead of a few days or weeks.

Furthermore, there are so many discarded crab shells that simply go to waste. Phillips Foods, a seafood company, hosts four factories in Asia — including one in India — that processes up to a combined 45,000 pounds of crab meat weekly.

According to sources, each kilogram of crab meat produced comes with four kilograms of guts and shells — which could easily be diverted to battery manufacturing.

However, there is still a ways to go before such chitosan-based batteries are adapted to real practice, since the tech is still in its infancy stage. But if there were any place to begin, based on the expansive scale of the seafood business, many experts reckon that that would be in Asia. India’s extensive coastlines and increasing crab consumption could certainly help the nation emerge as a leader, if the appropriate steps are taken.

The findings of this research have been published in Matter and can be accessed here.

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