Textiles to be turned into potassium ion batteries

 A project to turn textile waste, including manufacturing scraps, unwanted clothing, and cotton gin trash into new products, has been supported by the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Institute for Future Environments (IFE) Catapult program.

The program aims to turn textile waste into carbon material for potassium ion batteries (KIB).

As a significant waste stream, second only to the oil and gas industries in terms of its pollution, the potential for the use of the waste products from textiles could rapidly reduce the cost of these batteries.

The high cost of electrode and the limits of lithium, are seeing potassium ion batteries increasingly supported as an energy alternative. The project will use pure cellulose, contained in cotton, as its source of carbon.

Other projects funded in this round also had a focus on turning waste materials into useful products. Developed by associate professor, Alice Payne, one project is developing robotic systems to disassemble discarded clothing to be recycled. Another, led by professor, Christopher Barner-Kowollik, will embed a molecular code into plastic products so they can be identified and diverted from landfill or from being dumped.

The Catapult program aims to take short-term, higher-risk interdisciplinary projects, from creative discovery to innovative products.

“It’s really about helping to feed and sustain that spark of creativity and inspiration to deliver a solution with real-world impact,” said IFE director, Kerrie Wilson.

“By bringing together researchers from across QUT to collaborate and combine their expertise and giving them access to world-class research infrastructure, IFE acts as the catalyst, helping to amplify the research and innovation process.”