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ENERGY TECH
Shoring up the power grid - with DIY scrap-metal batteries
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 07, 2016


Each year the U.S. produces hundreds of millions of tons of metal scrap like this, which was photographed at the PSC Metals scrapyard in Nashville. Image courtesy Daniel Dubois and Vanderbilt University. For a larger version of this image please go here.

With residential solar energy ramping up, consumers are looking for ways to store extra energy without breaking the bank. To help solve this problem, a team of scientists has come up with a novel possibility: do-it-yourself, scrap-metal batteries. They report their method in the journal ACS Energy Letters.

One of the most obvious choices these days for back-up energy storage is the lithium-ion battery. This option, however, requires a complex, global supply chain and high-end manufacturing facilities. But making batteries hasn't always been so hi-tech.

The world's first speculated batteries originated during the first century B.C. with a terracotta pot, a copper sheet and an iron rod, according to Cary L. Pint and colleagues.

Going back to this simple predecessor known as the "Baghdad battery," the scientists decided to pursue a similarly basic device using scrap steel and brass, which respectively make up the most and the third-most abundant kinds of scrap metal waste in the U.S.

Pint and his team developed a simple process that could be carried out at home to prepare steel and brass scraps of varying sizes and shapes, including shavings and screws, to turn them into effective electrodes for batteries.

When the electrodes were combined with aqueous potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte, they yielded a battery with a voltage of up to 1.8 volts and an energy density up to 20 watt hours per kilogram, which approaches that of traditional lead-acid and nickel-iron batteries.

Testing showed the steel-brass batteries could charge and discharge more than 5,000 times. Because such devices are made of common scrap metal, they would be inexpensive and could help shift some of the energy storage burden from a centralized model to a localized one, the researchers say.


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Previous Report
ENERGY TECH
Making high-performance batteries from junkyard scraps
Nashville TN (SPX) Nov 07, 2016
Take some metal scraps from the junkyard; put them in a glass jar with a common household chemical; and, voila, you have a high-performance battery. "Imagine that the tons of metal waste discarded every year could be used to provide energy storage for the renewable energy grid of the future, instead of becoming a burden for waste processing plants and the environment," said Cary Pint, assi ... read more


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