High-Performance Battery Made from Household Chemicals & Junkyard Scrap
Added Dec 2, 2016 | Rate View top rated
Each year the U.S. produces hundreds of millions of tons of metal scrap. A Vanderbilt University research team used scraps of steel and brass - two of the most commonly discarded materials - to create the world’s first steel-brass battery that can store energy at levels comparable to lead-acid batteries, while charging and discharging at rates comparable to ultra-fast charging supercapacitors. The team basically combined scrap metal, laundry soap, and a glass jar. The secret was anodization, a common chemical treatment used to give aluminum a durable and decorative finish. When scraps of steel and brass are anodized using a common household chemical and residential electrical current, the team found that the metal surfaces are restructured into nanometer-sized networks of metal oxide that can store and release energy when reacting with a water-based liquid electrolyte. Unlike some exploding lithium-ion cell phone batteries, the steel-brass batteries use non-flammable water electrolytes that contain potassium hydroxide, an inexpensive salt used in laundry detergent.
William K. | commented on December 16, 2016
Scrap iron from junkyards is cheap and possibly plentiful, but usually it is found in odd shapes and sizes. Likewise scrap brass. So the battery would be randomly shaped, and probably no two would be the same. I know that Edison came up with a battery that used iron and some hydroxide compound, I don't recall all of the details. But I do wonder why the author was so careful about keeping that "household chemical" a deep secret. We are not children reading this and going out to build ourselves a bomb, this is an engineering publication. The part about accepting a charge so very quickly is also a puzzle. In fact, the whole article gives the impression that a whole lot is very intentionally hidden.
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