Meet the new battery that runs on CO2 and Air

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In our endangered world, every green technology counts, and when this technology is connected to energy itself, it is a big hit! This new research, just put us one step closer to a greener solution to energy, by developing a rechargeable battery that runs on a combination of carbon dioxide and air.

A team from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, just proposed a new kind of solution, which consists on pumping emissions into wells 1 or 2 kilometers underground, forcing heated water to the surface getting then, a source of geothermal power.

That’s cool, but the new invention from Pennsylvania State University will probably be revolutionary.

“This work offers an alternative, simpler means to capturing energy from CO2 emissions compared to existing technologies that require expensive catalyst materials and very high temperatures to convert CO2 into useful fuels”, told Christopher Gorski to Lisa Zyga from Phys.org.

This type of battery is called a flow cell, and its construction is quite simple. Just imagine two containers divided by a semi-porous membrane, and then, using a process called sparging, gas from ambient air is dissolved in water and added to one of the containers.

The second container, holds a similarly sparged mix of water with pure carbon dioxide. After being dissolved, the carbon dioxide splits into positively charged hydrogen ions, also known as protons, and bicarbonate, taking the pH solution to 7.7, and since the air-sparged solution has a higher pH of 9.4, the mixtures form a gradient in different concentrations of charged particles.

While most of the molecules won’t flow across the partition, the ions move freely between solutions, and as a result, the manganese oxide electrodes in each container experience differences in voltage, which then produces a current.

Once exhausted, the cell is recharged by simply switching the solution flow. The researchers found out that even after swapping the flow for more than 50 times, they still maintain the same level of performance.

For now, this flow cell has a power density of about 0.82 W/m2, which although is more than 200 times more powerful than previous efforts, it’s still, similar to your average AA battery power.

Of course, that adapting the technology, to make use of the gases produced by burning fuels will be another obstacle in the way, since now, it relies solely in pure carbon dioxide and clean air.

This research was published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

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