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Golden Age Technology

Sustainable Batteries: Eco-Friendly Solutions for Battery-Operated Devices

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Many of us may not be fully aware that batteries are essential to our everyday lives. Nowadays, most electronic devices we use, such as remote controls, cell phones, laptops, and even cars are powered by batteries. As the world moves toward the use of renewable energy from the sun, the wind, and other sources, along with the rapid expansion of the electric vehicles market, the demand for electricity storage is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries are widely used for portable electronic devices and electric vehicles because they’re rechargeable and have a high energy density. But lithium-ion batteries contain metals such as cobalt, nickel, and lithium that pose sustainability challenges. Mining for these metals creates a large carbon footprint and acid mine drainage can pollute clean water sources and lead to soil degradation.

On today's program, we’ll explore the world of sustainable battery technology, a key part of the transition to renewable energy.

GreenRock is an Austrian company that produces and sells saltwater batteries based on sodium-ion technology. The company uses the aqueous sodium-ion technique, which makes use of an aqueous electrolyte consisting of sodium sulfate and water. The battery’s construction is similar to that of a lead-acid battery, except that the materials used are all non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and neither flammable nor explosive.

The US multinational technology corporation IBM Research has designed a unique cathode and electrolyte combination using a cobalt- and nickel-free cathode material and a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. According to the company’s blog, this new battery can exceed more than 10,000 watt-hours per liter at optimized power density, outperforming today’s standard lithium-ion batteries. The company’s lab tests show that the battery can reach an 80 percent state of charge in less than five minutes. IBM is working toward commercializing the battery’s development by joining battery manufacturer Sidus, electrolyte supplier Central Glass, and German auto manufacturer Mercedes-Benz to create a new next-generation sustainable battery.

Last but not least, researchers from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have invented paper-thin biodegradable zinc batteries that can decompose in the soil. The batteries include electrodes screen-printed on both sides of hydrogel-reinforced cellulose paper.
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