Organic lithium-ion batteries on horizon In one more step of a global effort to develop greener battery technology, researchers at Rice University say they have found a way to replace a costly metallic component in lithium-ion batteries with material from a common plant. Many of today's lithium-ion batteries incorporate cobalt, which has to be mined and then altered at high temperature. Reaching into an oxygen-free box to combine and assemble materials, researchers have shown that in altered form, the plant-based substance can be incorporated into a lithium-ion battery that is almost as effective as today's versions, said Leela Mohana Reddy, the lead researcher in the effort. Greener materialsScientists worldwide are trying to find ways to make energy-storage devices out of more environmentally friendly materials, said Daniel Abraham, a materials scientist focusing on lithium-ion batteries at Argonne National Laboratory, adding that progress is being made that could make batteries easier to produce and recycle. "If you want to come up with a truly organic sustainable battery made up of plant material, every component of the cell should be made from these organic components, and that will make it truly eco-friendly and sustainable," Abraham said. Researchers in Rice's labs hope continued development with plant-based cathodes and other battery components will lead to better batteries, both for producers and consumers, said Pulickel Ajayan, a professor of material science and mechanical engineering who oversees the laboratory that housed Reddy's research.