One Man's Trash Is Another's Treasured Power Source: How MIT Claims We Can Convert Car Batteries To Solar Cells

It's almost 2016, and people are finally beginning to realize that fossil fuels are about are pertinent to the future as whale oil.  But what are we going to do with all those outdated chunks of old-school dead car batteries?  The bright minds at MIT have figured out a way for the past to fuel the future...

Rev it up with some recycling, and your old car battery could be a new source of sustainable energy.
(Image courtesy cleantechnica.com.)


According to BGR.com, MIT students have announced a plan to utilize scavenged old car battery parts to aid in the creation of sustainable solar cells.  By removing the lead parts from the old batteries, the material that otherwise would end up as toxic trash recycled into lesser items can now be recycled and remade into solar cells every bit as quality as those made with new elements.

Not only are these batteries now doubly useful in their lifespans, but they will provide extra benefits for the environment by not compelling an excess of environmentally-dangerous lead mining in the future.

This looks like toxic trouble (which it is), but in the right hands it is power for the people.
(Image courtesy htxt.co.za.)

By harvesting the lead from the anodes and cathodes of the battery (DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME), the synthesis of lead iodide can commence (lots of roasting required.)  This leads to a byproduct of lead oxide.  Conduct some chemistry, and lead substrates perfect for solar cells are created.


They scienced the shit out of it, and it wow - it worked.
(Image courtesy phys.org.)

With 250 million lead batteries in the US set to eventually become waste, this is a considerable means of recycling.  The perovskite-based solar panels function most efficiently thanks to their lead elements, and refining (rather than mining) junk lead has been shown to yield results comparable to fresh materials.  The recycled lead held the same rate of sunlight absorbency and photovoltaic capacity as newly-mined materials.  Amazingly, this held true with car batteries of several different ages, brands, and durations of use.

“If we could recover the lead in those batteries and use it to make perovskite solar cells, it’d be a win-win situation,” explained Angela Belcher, the MIT professor of biological engineering and materials science/engineering who is behind the project.

It is speculated that a single car battery's worth of led could provide enough perovskite solar cells to power 14 househoulds in Cambridge, MA, or 30 households in the more sun-drenched Las Vegas.  Under sunlight conditions similar to the Nevada desert, the entire US power grid could be run off of 12.2 million recycled car batteries, if fabricated into 8,634 square kilometers of solar cells.

May today and many more of your future days be merry and bright.


Drive on:  the lead arises from the dead and shines for you.
(Image courtesy news.mit.edu.)

4 comments:

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