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Junkyard Scraps Transformed Into High-Performance Batteries

Nov 07, 2016 04:10 AM EST
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A team of engineers and scientists at Vanderbilt University has discovered a technique to transform metal scraps and common household chemicals into high-performance batteries. The researchers are of the opinion that this new technique could provide massive amounts of electrical storage needed by the grid to handle alternative sources of energy and enable homeowners to create their own batteries without having to depend on the grid.

Besides the battery being easy to build and powerful, it brings forth a totally new kind of approach to inventiveness since it shuns industry and manufacturing totally and heads straight to the people. The battery companies will hate this, said Cary Pint, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University and leader of the team.

The inspiration behind this stems from an ancient technology labeled the "Baghdad Battery," dating to the first century B.C. It was made using a copper sheet, an iron rod, a terracotta pot, and some chemicals that acted as an electrolyte. The components used in the new battery are also the same. It requires steel and brass pieces along with a jar. The metal pieces are soaked in a jar containing either a solution of water and salt or water and antifreeze.

Pint and his teammates induced anodization by applying a voltage. This restructured the nanoscopic balance of the metal. Next, they placed a physical obstacle between the metal pieces. The last step involved submerging it in an electrolyte solution composed of potassium hydroxide, water, and soap. When linked by wires to a current generating device like a solar panel, the gadget functioned similar to a car battery.

Pint and his students have plans to make an online video showing how to build the battery and then work on the feedback gained from viewers to make improvements. Pint wants to do all the hard work and then reach out to the public directly instead of contacting the industry.

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