Aqueous organic flow batteries produce energy by moving ions through membranes separating two dissolved chemicals in tanks. A non-aqueous, solid flow battery uses organic solvents to dissolve active materials instead. Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have produced a working rechargeable proton battery. They believe this “could re-wire how we power our homes, vehicles and devices.”
An Environmentally Friendly Solution in a Proton Battery
The RMIT proton battery uses “a carbon electrode as hydrogen store, coupled with a reversible fuel cell to produce electricity”. Lead researcher Prof John Andrews explains the carbon electrode and the protons in the water make the difference.
These materials provide its “environmental, energy and potential economic edge,” he says. Therefore “Our latest advance is a crucial step towards cheap, sustainable proton batteries. Batteries that can help meet our future energy needs without further damaging our already fragile environment.” This sounds like exceptionally good news to us.
How the Prototype Proton Battery Works
The carbon in the electrode bonds with protons generated by splitting water using electrons from the power supply. The protons then return through the reversible fuel cell to combine with oxygen and generate power.
A proton battery measuring approximately 2.2 inches square stores as much energy as commercially available lithium-ion batteries. The Prof is quick to point out this is in terms of energy per unit mass before optimizing. It therefore combines the best of battery electric power and hydrogen fuel cells his team confirms.
This design may therefore prove superior because it uses carbon as opposed to lithium or metal hydrogen-storage alloys. Therefore, it is one among many potential contributors towards meeting the enormous demand for energy storage.
Preview Image: Old Jaill Goes Green for RMIT, Melbourne