Adam Freeman may have discovered how to create algae-based batteries, and the implications could be huge.
Seaweed lovers, you have one more reason to fawn over green pond scum. In a small lab near a lake at the edge of West Berkeley, a prototype of what could revolutionize battery power waits. What is the secret ingredient? Algae.
This seaweed has long been studied for its various uses and possible powering capabilities. And creator of the prototype, Adam Freeman, says this new kind of battery that he’s working on might even be able to power a Tesla. According to Freeman, it has potential to do 200X greater than the current lithium-based battery used today.
A research based company called alGAS was founded by Adam to prove just this.
The algae battery seems to have quite a few advantages over competition batteries: The founder claims that it charges faster and last longer than ion batteries used in popular Ipods, cell phones… and even a Tesla. How can this be?
According to TechCrunch, Freedman explained that paper-thin fibers in algae provide an easier surface for ions to get through, resulting in a charge in as little as 11 seconds, not minutes or hours.
The following diagram shows how a current battery charges. Reasons to ditch these kinds of batteries are numerous – studies citing that materials mined are becoming less abundant, and the batteries themselves may even be causing Cancer.
In small comparison, the video displayed shows Ryan Bethencourt, founder of the Berkely BioLabs, offering partial illustration of how algae batteries work. Effort most definitely needs to be given to better explain algae’s potential to the public, but this is no doubt part of what is going on at many research institutes.
In previous research, algae was proven to have a charge that could theoretically work as battery power. But what’s currently unknown is how much of a charge and how much is needed to power, for example, a car. Freeman believes he’s figured out the answer, though. What he’s asking for now is funding to bring it into mass production.
Adam is asking for only $1,500 to build a prototype, and knows he can have his algae battery ready for mass production by summer for a mere $5,000.
The materials currently used in ion batteries (that power gadgets almost every individual now owns) are hard to extract, and 95% of those obtained are imported from China. This makes them expensive, and not the best source of power for technological toys.
Furthermore, Tesla vowed to use only US materials. One has to consider that the small cost it would be to grow algae-powered batteries would also reduce their price. If successfully created, this could have big implications.
In theory, one could power their entire house with this kind of battery. A French biochemist is already powering a streetlight with the seaweed ingredient. Though Pierre Calleja’s experiment is different from Freeman’s, as he is not using the bio-safe polymer that makes Adam’s project unique. The polymer is a critical element that binds the fibers together to create a better interaction with the electron charge.
While actual results have yet to be obtained from the multitude of algae-filled jars lining his lab, Freeman feels the potential of what he and others are discovering is huge: “Think of driving your car on a living battery that charges in seconds with a battery that costs almost nothing and is actually good for the environment.”