In modern day society we use electricity in everything, and consequently, we use batteries to power almost everything. Batteries can have some seriously negative effects on our environment, but Harvard might have the solution.
Batteries power our phones, vehicles, computers, and almost everything we use all day long. Batteries are great and useful, but they are really harmful to our environment. While they aren’t the worst thing out there affecting our environment, they do greatly affect it. Batteries are composed of toxic chemicals and acids and if not disposed of properly, they can cause some serious ecosystem issues. Batteries give off phosphate materials that are really tough on the environment. The battery has been around for almost a hundred years now, and Harvard looks like they have just now perfected it.
Researchers at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed the answer to the toxicity of batteries. They have developed an inexpensive, non-toxic, noncorrosive flow battery! The battery stores energy in a liquid form, and is capable of lasting up to 10 years! The researchers wrote:
“We demonstrate an aqueous organic and organometallic redox flow battery utilizing reactants composed of only earth-abundant elements and operating at neutral pH. This approach may provide the decadal lifetimes that enable organic–organometallic redox flow batteries to be cost-effective for grid-scale electricity storage, thereby enabling massive penetration of intermittent renewable electricity.”
The Harvard researchers created a battery that modifies the structure of molecules used in positive and negative electrolyte solutions. This causes them to be water soluble and pH neutral. It only loses 1% of its life per 1,000 cycles! Professor Thomas Dudley comments, “Because we were able to dissolve the electrolytes in water, this is a long-lasting battery that you could put in your basement. If spilled on the floor, it wouldn’t eat the concrete and since the medium is non corrosive, you can use cheaper materials to build the components of the batteries, like the tanks and pumps.”