Gleb Yushin, one of the researchers and director of the Center for Nanostructured Materials for Energy Storage at Georgia Tech, says the team realized that some synthetic polymers, derived from plant cellulose, have structures that were close to what was needed, but weren't uniform enough. So the team began looking at aquatic plants. Says Yushin: "We thought that there might already be a polymer [we could use], because aquatic plants—especially those in seawater—are immersed in an electrolyte," and so would have evolved to prevent unwanted reactions. They came across alginate, which can be extracted by boiling kelp in soda water, and which has the uniform structure required.
Another advantage of alginate over PVDF is that, during anode manufacture, alginate can be dissolved in water, eliminating the need for NMP, potentially making for a cleaner manufacturing process. The researchers believe the binder could be integrated into existing anode manufacturing systems simply by swapping the PVDF and NMP supplies for alginate and water. The alginate could also be used to improve the performance of graphite-based anodes, allowing more charge and discharge cycles over the battery's lifetime.
Read it here: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/38531/?p1=A2