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Lightweight Carbon Foam

  • 16 May 2020
  • 3 min read

Why in News

Recently, scientists (including a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty award) from the CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (Bhopal) have developed the ‘lightweight carbon foam’ which has the potential to replace lead grid in lead-acid batteries.


  • Currently, the large-scale energy-storage sector is dominated by Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, because of their higher energy density and long cycle life.
    • Energy density is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given mass of a substance or system, i.e. a measure of storage of energy.
  • However, there are some concerns regarding Li-ion batteries, such as safety risk, limited resource supply, high cost, and lack of recycling infrastructure.
  • As a result, lead-acid batteries are still one of the most reliable, economical, and environmentally friendly options.
    • The Lead-acid battery is one of the oldest types of rechargeable batteries and was invented in 1859 by the French physicist Gaston Plante.
    • However, electrodes in the lead-acid batteries suffer from the problem of heavyweight, corrosion, poor thermal stability, and diffusion of electrolytes in one dimension, which ultimately affects the output power.
  • The above issues necessitated the development of an alternative battery system with lower environmental concerns, economic and higher energy density.
  • Thus, currently developed lightweight carbon foam can replace the lead-acid batteries as the foam is highly resistive to corrosion, has good electrical and thermal conductivity with high surface area.

Key Points

  • Properties:
    • The developed lightweight carbon foam has very less density and high porosity.
    • It also has a good mechanical strength and is insoluble in water.
  • Uses:
    • It can also be useful for heat sinks in power electronics, electromagnetic interference shielding in aerospace, hydrogen storage, electrodes for lead-acid batteries and water purification systems.
      • In the case of water purification systems it is cost-effective for the removal of arsenic, oil, and other metals from contaminated water.
  • Benefits:
    • These carbon foams are non-toxic, easy to fabricate and affordable.
    • The raw material for the fabrication of carbon foam is easily available and there is no requirement of any costly equipment for the fabrication of carbon foam and filtration.
    • Such materials can be safely used in remote areas where power supply is scarce.
  • Other Related Development:
    • Recently, a group of researchers (including a recipient of the INSPIRE Faculty Award) have also made significant achievements in developing nanomaterials based supercapacitors to achieve high energy density and power density of supercapacitors.


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