Steel and brass according to experts are the most common metals that can always be found at the dump. So why are not to create based on them something useful for humanity, such as new cheap power source or battery. Such an idea occurred to the team of scientists from Vanderbilt University.
It is believed that the very first batteries were developed not earlier than the 19th century. But some historians believe that the first battery analogues appeared much earlier. Take, for example, found in 1930, the so-called “Baghdad battery”. It consists of a terracotta urns, copper sheet and the iron rod. Into the urn is supposed as an electrolyte was poured vinegar or wine. Just steel (iron) and brass (the metal is created on the basis of copper) in that scientists are interested.
Whether to use a found device to generate electricity or storage is not known, but it just inspired scientists from Vanderbilt University in the creation of a new battery made of steel and brass.
Scientists have collected the brass and iron scrap for the purity of the experiment right at the rubbish dump. Then, using the usual methods of household chemistry they were anodized – covered with a protective layer of oxide. As a result of such a simple conversion, the metals were able to accumulate on the surface a sufficiently large amount of electric charge, that is, they become suitable for use as electrodes in the battery.
Then researchers placed the treated metal into container and filled it with water-based electrolyte of potassium hydroxide. Its peculiarity is that the substance does not ignite and therefore safe for use in batteries.
A prototype of the new battery at the test trials showed very good electrical characteristics. For nominal voltage of 1.8 V, each battery cell had a specific energy density – 20 Wh / kg and density of electric power up to 20 kW / kg. What is similar to the parameters of automotive lead-acid batteries.
But the potential number of charge / discharge cycles (measured in laboratory conditions) was 5,000, which is equivalent to 13 years of intensive daily use. However, even after the five thousand cycles it should remain about 90% of its original capacity.
Now scientists are working on the creation of a full prototype, so they are not going to hide from the public the details of their invention, but rather they wish that the largest possible number of ordinary people have taken these batteries. At least to date, it is potentially the most accessible and cheapest battery.