Carbon black recycled from used car and truck tires could lead to better anodes for lithium-ion batteries if researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are successful. They have developed a process that recovers pyrolytic carbon black, a manmade material that is similar to graphite, from shredded tires. When that material was used to make the anode or negatively charged electrode on a prototype battery, it demonstrated a reversible capacity higher than what is possible with graphite. After 100 cycles (charge-discharge), the capacity measures about 390 mA- hr per gram of carbon black.
The research team is now developing methods to scale up the process for commercial use.The carbon black and its microstructure provided the inexpensive, environmentally benign carbon material with high surface area, long-term stability, and higher-rate capability. Anodes account for about 11 to 15% of the money spent on battery components, or about $1.65 billion.