We do have this problem surrounding batteries, especially when it comes to the issue of disposing them in a safe manner. Well, nature has come to humanity’s rescue once again, where an ancient natural red plant dye could actually be the ideal candidate to create an eco-friendly, sustainable, lithium-ion battery. Researchers are currently looking into developing batteries that will rely on the roots of a climbing herb known as the madder plant. For more than 3,500 years, civilizations in Asia and the Middle East have boiled madder roots to extract purpurin, a nontoxic dye they used to color fabrics vivid oranges, reds and pinks.
Who would have thought that this dye would be able to hold the potential for energy storage? It seems that purpurin and its relatives are the ideal electrode materials, sporting electron-rich molecular rings that are adept at passing electrons back and forth just like how standard electrodes do, coordinating with lithium in a jiffy. Not only that, turning purpurin into an electrode is but a matter of a few steps without costing too much, all at room temperature. Nature knows best, don’t you think so?