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Metal-Free Organic Battery Technology Promises Cheap Renewable Energy Storage


ku-xlarge (2)The main obstacle that prevents renewable energy from being the one and only source of power is storage.

Researchers have long been trying to find the key ingredient, which gives this extra boost to existing battery technologies, while it saves money on expensive materials, but it seems there is always just a little bit more that is needed. Now, a team from Harvard University claims to have found exactly what everyone has been looking for all this time, and it was all hidden in a molecule found in the tasty rhubarb.

The molecules with properties that can completely transform energy storage devices are called quinones. What makes these molecules extra special is the fact that they act as electrocatalysts, just as platinum does, but they are much cheaper. The organic compounds found in rhubarb, were built into metal-free batteries, by harnessing the electrochemistry of the molecules.

Because these new batteries do not contain any expensive materials, charging a kilowatt-hour costs less than $30. Considering that to charge a typical energy storage device with this same amount of energy costs roughly around $700, this new invention might well be exactly what was required in order to completely forget about fossil fuels. This is also very clear especially if we have a look at the estimates made by the Department of Energy. According to the energy experts there, it seems that  to take full advantage of wind and solar, charging of a kilowatt-hour should cost around $100.

As all new and not-yet-tested technologies, this is still in its development stage. But imagine how great would be if this idea is made commercial. It might not be a bad idea for the guys to throw it in a kickstarter campaign. Thinking of all these people, who would love to invest in something as brilliant as this, the technology might raise quite a bit of funds much faster than the makers anticipate.

Image (c) Harvard Communications

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