New ‘super battery’ can be made from junkyard metal

Made from metal scrap and common household chemicals, researchers developed a new high-performance, grid-scale battery.

By: PTI | New York | Published:November 7, 2016 5:51 pm
super battery, junkyard metal, grid scale battery, scrap metal, pill bottle, Vanderbilt University, Baghdad Battery, anodisation, electrolyte solution, potassium hydroxide Prototype battery made from scrap metal. (Source: Daniel Dubois / Vanderbilt University)

Researchers have developed a new high-performance, grid-scale battery made from metal scrap and
common household chemicals. The proof-of-concept battery, which is no bigger than a pill bottle, could withstand the equivalent of 13 years of daily charging and discharging while retaining 90 per cent of its capacity, researchers said.

Cary Pint, assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in the US, said the battery is powerful and easy-to-build and represents a new kind of approach to innovation. Pint and his students were inspired from an ancient technology called the Baghdad Battery, which dates to the first century BC.

It consisted of a terracotta pot, a copper sheet and an iron rod along with some trace chemicals that could have been an electrolyte. The team soaked metal pieces in a jar with a solution of water and salt or a solution of water and antifreeze.

They then applied a voltage to induce a known process called anodisation, which restructures the nanoscopic composition of a metal.That exposes the metal’s interior surface and makes it more receptive to storing and releasing energy.

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Researchers placed a physical barrier between the two pieces of metal and submerged it in an electrolyte solution made from water and potassium hydroxide. When connected by wires to a device that generated a current, such as a solar panel, their contraption worked just like a car battery.