A team of enthusiasts from Vanderbilt University recently developed a high performance battery from scrap metal. According to assistant professor Cary Pint, “The tons of metal waste discarded every year could be used to provide storage for renewable energy instead of becoming a burden for waste processing plants and the environment.” This team took scraps of brass and steel, the most commonly discarded metals, and created a battery that is capable of storing energy at level that is at par with the regular lead-acid batteries. The charging and discharging abilities of these batteries is comparable with that of supercapacitors.
The team claims that the high performance of this battery comes through its anodisation. As and when the metals are anodised with the a common domestically used chemical as well as private electrical current, these metal surfaces restructure themselves into nanometre-sized networks of metal oxide that are capable of releasing and storing energy upon reaction with potassium hydroxide, a water based liquid electrolyte. These nanometre domains are the reasons behind the fast charging nature and stability of these batteries. These batteries were checked by the team for say 5000 consistent cycles which roughly equals charging and recharging for 13 years on a 24-hour basis. Even after that, the battery was able to work with its 90 percent efficiency.
The team is now working on a full-sized prototype battery that will be suitable for usage in energy-efficient smart homes. Pint says, “We’re forging new ground with this project. It’s a completely new way of thinking about battery research and it could bypass the barriers holding back innovation in grid scale energy storage.”
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