Solar batteries on the water, at sea and in a landfill can be hard to maintain.
But a group of Australian engineers has found a way to build solar batteries that can be kept in perfect working order for decades.
In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the group explains how they built solar batteries out of recycled batteries from a commercial battery factory in Australia.
The batteries were constructed from the carbon dioxide gas that naturally decomposes into water, and then the CO2 is recycled to make fuel for an electric car.
They’re the first commercially available solar batteries to be built from recycled batteries.
The researchers used a special type of carbon-capture polymer that absorbs CO2 and captures it into a liquid form, which is then pumped out of the battery and recycled into seawater.
The team’s approach to making solar batteries was to use a technology that was already commercially available, but which wasn’t widely used because it’s not technically feasible.
“The most efficient way to use recycled batteries is to use them as a source of electricity,” lead author of the study and former postdoc of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Dr. Joanna Smith, told New Scientist.
“In the UK, they’re used as a primary source of power, which doesn’t allow for the efficient conversion of CO2 into electricity.
So this process allows you to produce electricity for a very long time without having to run a generator.”
The Australian researchers found that they could make a solar battery that was 100 times as efficient at storing CO2 as conventional batteries, and was five times as good at storing it when discharged.
“You can store up to 10 times as much energy as you can using these recycled batteries,” Smith told New Semiconductor.
“So if you’re doing a power generation system, you’re using these batteries to store energy for your generator, but you don’t have to store that energy in your power grid.”
Smith said that a battery made from these recycled materials could be used for any kind of energy storage, including for powering electric vehicles.
“We can convert CO2 that’s naturally in the atmosphere into electricity,” she said.
“That can be used to store electricity in the form of batteries or for solar cells.”
The researchers are working on building the solar batteries into a new type of battery called a battery of the future.
They’ve been working on the concept for about a year, but they need funding to get it off the ground.
“To be able to commercialise it and to actually scale it up we need to get the financing we need,” Smith said.
The Australian team hopes that their work could be useful in the future for powering boats that don’t need solar energy.
“It’s a huge step forward,” said Dr. David MacLeod, a marine scientist and former director of the Centre for Marine Engineering at the Australian National University.
“This is really the first step towards realizing the dream of a floating energy storage system.”
The battery of future has many advantages over existing systems, Smith said, including the fact that it can be installed on any boat, and it’s much smaller than a conventional battery.
The battery also has the added advantage that it won’t need any power cables or cables attached to it.
“If you need to install a battery in a boat you have to use cables that you’re already connected to,” Smith added.