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Can protein also make batteries?

Date:Nov 06, 2019

According to foreign media reports, protein is good for muscle growth, but it can also help build sustainable organic batteries. One day, this battery may become a substitute for traditional lithium-ion batteries, and will not bring safety and environmental problems. Nowadays, researchers have taken the first step in building electrodes for such cells by using synthetic peptides (the substances that makeup proteins) and other polymers.


Tran Nguyen, a Ph.D. student who participated in the project, said: "At present, the trend in the battery field is to study how electrons are transmitted in polymer networks. The beauty of peptides is that we can change the geometry of the main chain or the main part of the structure. Next, the chemical composition of the side chain is controlled in 3D, and then systematic research can be carried out to change the influence of different aspects of the side chain."


Current lithium-ion batteries pose a hazard to the environment, and because the cost of recycling is higher than the cost of production, often discarded lithium-ion batteries are deposited in landfills. At present, there is still no safe way to handle such batteries, but this can be changed if a protein-based organic battery is developed.


Dr. Karen Wooley, who led the research team at Texas A&M University, said: "The amide bond on the peptide chain is very stable and therefore very durable and can be triggered during decomposition and recovery." It is therefore believed that the peptide is ultimately available for storage. Fields of electrical energy such as mobile batteries. In addition, the use of such a protein-like structure enables the construction of an existing structure of proteins capable of efficiently transporting electrons in nature, thereby optimizing the characteristics to control battery performance.


The researchers constructed the system using electrodes made of carbon black composites to construct a peptide containing benzyl viologen or tetramethyl cerium oxide (TEMPO). They attached benzyl viologen to the substrate of the anode (negative electrode) and used the polypeptide containing TEMPO as the cathode (positive electrode). The resulting battery is suitable for low energy applications such as biosensors.


Currently, Nguyen has synthesized several differently constructed polymers for studying their electrochemical properties for use in organic batteries. If a suitable polymer is found, it is expected to increase the capacity of the battery or can be used in an electric vehicle. Although organic batteries require a long period of research before commercialization, proteins can provide flexible and diverse structures that promise to offer the broad potential for safer environments and sustainable energy storage


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