What has the advancement in science and technology led us to? In short; how do we benefit from these advancements? Well, we could start off by pointing out all the awesome gadgets that are now at our disposal for use. Having said that, don’t you feel that the batteries being employed are still not up to the performance level that they should be? Although Lithium-ion batteries have resulted in making portable, rechargeable gadgets commonplace, they still have a lot of drawbacks; they don’t scale up, heat up issues and they are made with rare and toxic elements. This is where a team from the Southern California (USC) comes in with an alternative for battery; water based organic battery.
This particular battery is cheaper, environment friendly and also comes with the potential of scaling up that implies it can be used with solar and wind power plants in order to store large amounts of energy. The technology that has been unveiled by the USC team is known as organic redux flow battery. A similar one was developed for NASA’s Helios electric powered drones. The battery consists two tanks that contain electro-active solution chemicals. These solutions are then pushed into a cell where they are divided by a membrane and interact via it resulting in the production of electricity.
The team states that the tanks can be of any size when compared with the cells, therefore allowing a system to store as much energy as the tank’s size allows. Sri Narayan, Professor of Chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, says; ‘The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan. Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture.’
The electroactive material being used is organic material with the team being able to come up with materials that relied on oxidized organic compounds known as quinones. Quinones are basically found in fungi, plants, some animals, bacteria and are involved in cellular respiration and photosynthesis. If you’d like to be more specific; the Quinones being sued are anthraquinone-2-sulfonic acid or anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonic acid on the negative side, and 1,2-dihydrobenzoquinone- 3,5-disulfonic acid on the positive side of the cell.
The team is hopeful that this technology will one day transform into a battery of mega scale that will work as a battery bank with low costs and while rendering itself environment friendly. Currently the team is working on scaling up the technology while their work has been published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.