Rust to build a solar-powered battery

Further developments in batteries are highly awaited by researchers all over the world. One of the most limiting aspects to live in a more sustainable and off-grid world are batteries. So far, their capacities are far away from users requirements and their durability isn’t good enough. The most common materials implemented are Li-Ion (Lithium ions) and LiPo (Polymer of Lithium) thanks to their stability and cost-effectiveness. However, its capacity is still far away from necessities. An amazing possibility developed by Stanford University researchers based on rust is being studied. A promising solution with a very different approach from materials.

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Rust metal will never be understimated again

The main drawback of renewable energies is that they rely on varaiable factors. Solar energy needs sun to work properly, without wind, turbines won’t generate energy and so on. However, we may have pick values that are bigger than the energy necessities in that moment. Therefore, battaries play a key role in renewable energies. Some solutions for homes such as Tesla Powerwall, Schneider Ecoblade, Daimler batteries or Orison have been unveiled during the last year. Nevertheless, a further development is still required.

As we have mentioned before, one of the most important fields to improve batteries and renewable energies is materials. The study developed in Stanford University is focused on metal oxides like rust. They can be fashioned into solar cells capable of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Spliting H2O is a way to store energy to be released at night. The photons captured by the cells are converted into the electrons that divide the molecule. Recombining the atoms at night is a way to release power back at night.

Researchers have tested three different metal oxides (bismuth vanadium oxide, titanium oxide and iron oxide). One of the main advancements provided by the study published in Energy & Environmental Science has shown that metal oxides are efficient with high temperatures. Contrary to expectations, researchers found out that hydrogen and oxygen production was increased as temperature was higher. That’s what is represented in the video above.

Although further research is still required to find specific temperatures where efficiency is higher, the first approach is promising. We look forward to hearing about similar experiences in the foreseeable future.

Source: Stanford University

Had you ever thought about storing energy with rust? Tell us!


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