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Fungus can create rechargeable batteries

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Researchers have shown that a fungus can be used to create better rechargeable batteries in the future as studies have proved that fungus can transform manganese into a mineral composite with favourable electrochemical properties.

Fungus Neurospora crassa present in the red bread mold could be the key to producing more sustainable electrochemical materials for use in rechargeable batteries in the future.

“We have made electrochemically active materials using a fungal manganese biomineralisation process,” said Geoffrey Gadd from the University of Dundee in Scotland.

The electrochemical properties of the carbonised fungal biomass-mineral composite were tested in a supercapacitor and a lithium-ion battery.

The compound was found to have excellent electrochemical properties. This system, therefore, suggests a novel biotechnological method for the preparation of sustainable electrochemical materials.

Gadd and his colleagues have long studied the ability of fungi to transform metals and minerals in useful and surprising ways.

In earlier studies, they showed that fungi could stabilise toxic lead and uranium.

That led the researchers to wonder whether fungi could offer a useful alternative strategy for the preparation of novel electrochemical materials too.

“We had the idea that the decomposition of such biomineralised carbonates into oxides might provide a novel source of metal oxides that have significant electrochemical properties,” Gadd added in a paper published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

“We were surprised that the prepared biomass-Mn oxide composite performed so well,” he noted.

The carbonised fungal biomass-mineral composite “showed an excellent cycling stability and more than 90 percent capacity was retained after 200 cycles, compared to other manganese oxides in batteries,” the authors noted.

The researchers are further studying on the possibilities of using fungus in making useful metal carbonates.

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