Published in the Nature Scientific Report journal, the team's findings may be the starting point towards significant increases in batteries' efficiency. Apparently, the team is using sand, yes -- sand -- instead of the typical graphite for the anode, and graduate student Zachary Favors is credited with coming up with the idea after realizing how much quartz there is in the sand at the beach.
After obtaining sand that is rich enough in quartz, Favors milled it to the nanometer scale and purified it. After adding a few other inexpensive ingredients, like ground salt and magnesium, the mix was heated to arrive at pure silicon. That same silicon also proved to be very porous which, reportedly, is the key to improved performance of batteries consisting the element. In any case, a threefold increase in energy density is reported to have resulted from this new process when compared with standard, graphite anode-based batteries. Best of all, this new solution would be far cheaper to produce, not to mention it would be non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Hold your thumbs!