contain chitin, a kind of polysaccharide that makes their shells hard and resistant. This valuable material is abundant in nature and can also be found in fungi and insects, but is usually thrown away as food waste from restaurants and a byproduct of the food industry. Scientists have long been researching its various applications – in biomedical engineering, for example, for wound dressing as well as anti-inflammatory treatments – and now, electrical engineering.
Through chemical processing and adding acetic acid aqueous solution, chitin can ultimately be synthesised into a firm gel membrane and used as an electrolyte for a battery. An electrolyte is the liquid, paste, or gel inside a battery that helps ions – charged molecules – travel between one end and the other of a battery, allowing it to store energy.