Researchers of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Australia, invented a working rechargeable proton battery system, which is able to store as much energy as commercially-available lithium-ion batteries.
The prototype combines a carbon electrode as a hydrogen store with a reversible fuel cell in order to produce electricity. The carbon in the electrode bonds with the protons, which were generated by splitting water with the help of electrons from the power supply. Afterwards the protons become released again to pass back through the reversible fuel cell to form water with oxygen from the air to generate power.
The small proton battery (5,5 cm2) stores as much energy as a current lithium-ion battery with a maximum of 1.2 volt, but is environmentally friendly due to the carbon used.
Potential applications could be household storage, medium-scale storage on electricity grids or e-vehicles. Lead researcher Professor John Andrews explains: “The proton battery is one among many potential contributors towards meeting this enormous demand for energy storage. Powering batteries with protons has the potential to be more economical than using lithium ions, which are made from scare resources. Carbon, which is the primary resource used in our proton battery, is abundant and cheap compared to both metal hydrogen-storage alloys, and the lithium needed for rechargeable lithium ion batteries.”
With further development the battery system could revolutionize our storage systems and contribute to a more environmentally friendly application of batteries.
Image Source: © RMIT | rmit.edu.au