Trash to Treasure: From Harmful Algal Blooms to High-Performance Electrodes for Sodium-Ion Batteries

Xinghua Meng, Phillip E. Savage, Da Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are frequently reported around the globe. HABs are typically caused by the so-called blue-green algae in eutrophic waters. These fast-growing HABs could be a good source for biomass. Unlike terrestrial plants, they need no land or soil. If HABs could be harvested on a large scale, it could not only possible to mitigate the issue of HABs but also provide a source of biomass. Herein, we demonstrate a facile procedure for converting the HABs into a promising high-performance negative-electrode material for sodium-ion batteries (SIBs). The carbon material derived from blue-green algae demonstrated promising electrochemical performance in reversible sodium storage. The algae used in this work was collected directly from Lake Erie during the algal blooms that affected 500 000 residents in Toledo in 2014. The carbon, derived from the freshly collected HABs by calcination in argon without any additional purification process, delivered a highly stable reversible specific capacity (∼230 mAh/g at a testing current of 20 mA/g) with nearly 100% Columbic efficiency in sodium storage. Impressive rate performance was achieved with a capacity of ∼135 mAh/g even after the testing current was increased fivefold. This proof of concept provides a promising route for mitigating the issue of HABs as "trash" and for generating high-capacity, low-cost electrodes for SIBs as "treasure".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12543-12550
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 20 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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