Cheap electronics, cheap energy: The power of cheap batteries
CNN has obtained documents revealing the secrets of a $200 billion industry, one that has been shrouded in secrecy for decades.
A team of researchers at MIT, Princeton University, and Harvard University unveiled a new class of cheap electronic devices that could dramatically reduce the cost of batteries in the coming decades.
“We have seen a massive shift in the power-grid industry, which has transformed how we think about the world,” said Dr. Mark Hyman, the lead author of the paper.
“For a long time, the energy grid has been the world’s single most important power source.
But now, thanks to the emergence of batteries, we have a huge opportunity to use batteries to deliver energy to the world.”
Hyman and his colleagues used a novel type of electrode, called a metal oxide semiconductor, to build an array of inexpensive battery cells that were capable of storing more energy than they consumed.
They designed a battery that can use only a fraction of the energy it consumes to provide electricity to its owners.
Hyman’s team also showed that it could convert some of the electrons stored in the cells into hydrogen and vice versa, using a new type of catalyst that is inexpensive and non-toxic.
This innovative technology can transform the cost and energy efficiency of battery-powered devices, which have been key to our modern life, Hyman said.
For example, Hymen’s team has developed an inexpensive battery that has a range of up to five miles (8 kilometers) and uses just a few cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.
“For a home user, you can go into your home and turn on your TV or a laptop and watch something on the go,” Hyman explained.
“You don’t have to charge it all the time.
You can recharge it at night, and then go back to your car and be in charge.”
The new research paper also showed how batteries can be used to create new kinds of energy sources.
The team used graphene to build a battery cell with two electrodes, each of which has a tiny layer of carbon atoms embedded in it.
The graphene layers are bonded together with an anode, which is a metal electrode, and an anhydride, which contains an electron.
The anhydrite layer has electrons, while the carbon atoms have hydrogen ions.
When the researchers charged the batteries, the anode and anhydrous layers combined to produce hydrogen ions, which were then used to charge the batteries.
The new battery is the first of its kind to store electricity using hydrogen ions alone.
“It’s basically a simple metal-oxide semiconductor battery,” Hymen said.
“We just took an existing material and turned it into an electrolyte.”
Hymen and his team found that a battery with the new technology can store up to 25 percent of the electricity produced by a typical battery in a typical home.
The battery is capable of generating more electricity than a typical car battery, which typically provides about 7 percent of electricity from electricity generated by fossil fuels.
“If you’re a home customer, you don’t want to spend $300 or $400 to buy a home battery,” he said.
“I think you’re going to have a much greater impact on energy use and on energy storage than if you’re an electric utility, where you’re trying to manage the amount of electricity they’re getting from their grid,” Hymans said.