Iron-air batteries: a cheap and eco-friendly solution for energy storage

After more than 40 after preparing the first prototype of a cheap , rechargeable, high energy density iron-air battery, researchers at the University of Southern California are now finishing the job of the patent-pending design of the battery.

The technical characteristics of the batteries look particularly well-suited to the kind of large-scale energy storage that could accelerate the adoption of renewable energy sources.

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Back in the 70’s, researchers were already working on environmentally friendly rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and only recent advances in materials technology have made this technology into one of the most common, high-performing solutions for today’s portable electronics.

Iron compared to other materials has a few advantages: it’s durable, it has a great capacity to pack energy (per unit of mass), it’s recyclable but most importantly it’s cheap with costs around US$1/kg (2.2 lb).

Iron-air batteries were first expected to be used for electric vehicles and military applications after the 1973 oil crisis. However, research stopped abruptly only years later, when scientists realized that iron-air batteries presented a serious  limitation: whenever the battery was being charged, a wasteful process of hydrolysis drained away about half of the battery’s energy.

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With today’s technology and advanced research, University of Southern California found a solution to this  problem. They learned that adding a small amount of bismuth sulfide into the battery shut down the harmful reaction and reduced the waste of energy more than tenfold, from 50 down to just 4% .

The other good characteristic cost-effective design of its iron electrode. The researchers combined iron powder with a polyethylene binder, heating the mix to obtain a “pressed-plate” electrode that is simple to make and has high specific energy.

The iron-air battery is exhibiting very promising durability, with a target life of 5,000 charge-discharge cycles. Even more importantly, the batteries seem to retain good performance when they are being drained quickly: at a two-hour rate of discharge, the batteries are showing a twenty-fold increase in capacity compared to commercially available electrodes.

Shanghai Metal Corporation encourages the development and innovation of new technologies. You can visit the company’s website , contact us and follow us on twitter and facebook for more information and news on metal.

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Houria // SMC Editor

The Eden Project: Bringing The Ancient Copper Back To Life

Copper is known to be a major metal and an essential element used all around the globe. It is the oldest metal known to man and was first discovered and used about 10,000 years ago, however it was only alloyed in bronze circa 3000 BC, making it the first engineering material known to man. image

The first facts about copper relates to the pyramids of Cheops, located in Egypt. Archeologists have found water pipes partly made from copper. Piping network has been used in Egypt for more than 5000 years. Therefore, copper was believed as the symbol of the eternal life. In the hieroglyph system, the ancient Egyptian people utilized the ankh symbol to represent copper.

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Nowadays, copper is not only restricted to piping work, but it has expanded to include heating, cooling and refrigeration, electrical wiring, electronics, power generation and transmission, automotive applications, antimicrobial uses and many more. Moreover, copper can still be considered a symbol of eternal life for the Egyptians; however it can also be considered a sustainable material; when taking in consideration the processes of extraction, production and retail.

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Therefore, The Eden Project based in Cornwall, England is one of the most innovative and high profile of the Millennium Projects. It is the largest plant enclosure in the world built in the lightest and most ecological way possible. Eden’s aim was to build the Core (education center) with the highest sustainable specifications, challenging the conventions for sustainable design and construction, with targets above the national benchmarks and using carefully selected materials. The team considered the complex interaction between a range of criteria of sustainable issues, specifically waste neutrality, positive futures, recycled content, certification of materials and local sourcing implications.

Eden Project

The key criteria affecting the choice of roofing material were:

• to make a bold architectural statement to complement Eden’s ground-breaking architecture and landscapes;

• to be durable, strong and relatively lightweight;

• to be malleable enough to cope with the complex structure of the roof;

• to have excellent sustainability credentials, and

• most importantly for a building dedicated to education at Eden, the roof should highlight a progressive message relating to sustainable development issues.

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Panoramic view of the geodesic dome structures of Eden Project eden3 eden1

While copper can be relatively expensive for a roof and is in strong competition with other roofing materials, it is robust, even when turned into sheets, malleable, completely waterproof and very long lasting: physical properties that made it ideal for the roof’s complex design. Aesthetically too, copper is the only common metal; other than gold,  that isn’t grey or silver, making it one of the most easily recognized metals, thus aiding engagement with visitors as a first step to relating the sustainability message.

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As an international manufacturer and supplier for copper sheet and bronze sheet, Shanghai Metal Corporation produces slitting, edging, and oscillates winding to fit your specific copper requirements. For more information on our copper products please visit our website here. Be sure to join the conversation in our Linkedln group, Facebook and Instagram.

You can also read more articles by our team at SMC:

Who To Blame (Or Thank) For Your Braces

Most Creative Statues

How To Do A Better Job Than Jack

Sources: The Eden project

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#BuildingValueAcrossTheGlobe

William P.//SMC Editor