Wooden batteries may replace your alkalines in the future

Here's something environmentalists may look forward to: swapping their alkaline batteries for wooden ones to power their electronic gadgets.

Researchers at the University of Maryland are working on a wooden battery—or at least an energy source that uses the natural fibrous structures in trees.

"(Liangbing Hu and Nicholas Weadock's) idea is to use natural fibrous structures present in the tree to excite charged particles and create an electrical current," tech site Mashable reported.

The researchers' goal is to replace lithium with sodium, though sodium may not be as efficient at holding an electrical charge.

Yet, sodium could be useful in storing large amounts of energy from sources like the sun and wind, Mashable added.

"Wooden batteries and lithium batteries both used charged ions to create currents, but the wood and sodium combination is more abundant and cost-effective. The team is also looking at the possibility of creating a long-lasting battery that is also an environmentally friendly source," it said.

Wooden batteries are made from fibers 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper, which are woven into thin sheets.

The sheets are coated with a thin layer of tin so current can flow. The treated sheets are placed inside a metal disk. — TJD, GMA News