Indian American professor turns tea leaves into batteries

Gupta joined Pittsburg State University in the spring of 2013.

Ram Gupta, an Indian American researcher at Pittsburg State University, is trying to find a replacement for commonly used lithium batteries by turning green waste into green energy, reported joplinglobe.com.

Gupta and his team of students are trying to convert green tea leaves into high performance, lightweight and safe batteries that can replace lithium batteries.

Ram Gupta (Courtesy of YouTube)

“Our idea is to use eco-friendly materials which aren’t reactive with air,” he said. “We can work these into an active carbon, which is a main ingredient in batteries. It has a very promising future.”

Though the team has successfully created small batteries from tea leaves and bamboo, those batteries cannot be used for large-scale purposes. So, they are now focusing on creating a hybrid device that has the long-lasting power of a battery and the instant charge of a supercapacitor.

The device could be used for commercial use since the production process would be automated.

Though lithium batteries are widely used for different purposes including powering cell phones, computers, and even some cars, they are not safe since they are more likely to catch fire under certain conditions. This is mainly because of the flammable electrolyte used in such batteries.

“Every day, we have to charge our phone for hours. I feel like if we can have charging for less than a second, that would be my accomplishment if I could do it commercially,” said Sanket Bhoyate, a second-year graduate student at PSU, who is the lead author of a paper detailing the research in Global Challenges, an international journal.

Gupta, an assistant professor of chemistry, holds a Ph.D. and an M.Sc in Chemistry from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India.

Gupta joined Pittsburg State University in the spring of 2013. Before joining the Pittsburg State University, he worked as an Assistant Research Professor at Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, and as a Senior Research Scientist at North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC.

His research focus is in green energy production and storage using nanomaterials, optoelectronics and photovoltaics devices, organic-inorganic hetero-junctions for sensors, nanomagnetism, conducting polymers and composites as well as bio-based polymers, bio-compatible nanofibers for tissue regeneration, scaffold and antibacterial applications and bio-degradable metallic implants.

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