Rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world’s population, but 20% of the grain’s annual production of 108 tons is inedible and discarded for low-value uses such as kindling. Scientists are hoping to convert the husks’ silica into high-value silicon for smartphone batteries. An added benefit to using rice silica is its higher rate of efficiency compared with traditional silicon alloys.
In an effort to recycle rice husks for high-value applications, we convert the silica to silicon and use it for high-capacity lithium battery anodes. Taking advantage of the interconnected nanoporous structure naturally existing in rice husks, the converted silicon exhibits excellent electrochemical performance as a lithium battery anode, suggesting that rice husks can be a massive resource for use in high-capacity lithium battery negative electrodes.
Given the high number of annual waste husk, they believe that diverting some fibers towards silica production will not disrupt other uses for husks or require additional rice production. Additionally, the trajectory of global skyrocketing population and rising incomes of rural population means that annual rice and smartphone consumption might climb laterally.