Batteries play an influential role in the sustainable living movement. Without the ability to store energy, people would have to regulate their power consumption based on availability.
Contradictorily, most batteries are far from green. Warning signs on the back of mainstream lithium-ion battery packs suggest that such items should not be disposed using conventional methods.
Rechargeables help reduce battery consumption, but eventually also face the same fate as regular batteries.
Aquion Energy’s Edible Batteries
Leading the development of the green storage space is Aquion Energy, a startup backed by energy advocate Bill Gates and the funding division of Shell Oil. The company is creating waves in the community with its saltwater-based batteries. Compared to standard storage units, the ones released by the group boasts several advantages.
The batteries are made out of the following materials: saltwater electrolyte, manganese oxide cathode, carbon composite anode, and synthetic cotton separator. Technically, you could eat the parts and not need medical attention. The energy storage pods are also incredibly safe. They are non-flammable, self-extinguishing and non-explosive. You could use the batteries in blistering hot weather, such as deserts and islands, without meticulous maintenance.
“Aquion’s Aqueous Hybrid Ion chemistry is a safe, sustainable, and cost-effective energy storage solution for both microgrid and off-grid applications. Their batteries are a perfect match for our new microgrid-forming products,” said Ryan O’Keefe, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Ideal Power.
Impressively, from a long-term perspective, the sustainable units can outperform today’s batteries. During its five-year lifespan, the storage cell can discharge repeatedly to its maximum power threshold without reducing the overall capacity (normal batteries, like the ones found in smartphones and laptops, lose efficiency over time, forcing you to recharge frequently). This means you’ll have the same quality of power for the entire cycle.
To make its eco-friendly intentions transparent, the group acquired Cradle-to-Cradle (Bronze) certification for the AHI S20 and S20-P. The products are the first batteries in the world to be recognized for high-grade sustainability.
“Entering the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program and earning Bronze level achievement for our battery stack is a tremendous validation of the work started eight years ago at Carnegie Mellon University,” said Dr. Jay Whitacre, founder and chief technology officer of Aquion Energy.
“In thinking about the quantity of batteries that will be deployed globally alongside renewable energy systems, it makes sense to use clean and sustainable batteries.”
Whitacre is reportedly in the running for the Lemelson-MIT Prize, a prestigious award given to inventors who use disruptive technology to develop life-changing products.
The battery manufacturing sector is packed with top-level companies, including Tesla, Samsung SDI, LG Chem and Saft Groupe SA, all of which are well-established brands with very deep pockets. Most of the businesses offer similar energy storage units for residential and industrial use.
Aquion Energy fits in the cluster of providers by offering a clean, low-cost battery that supports off-grid living conditions. The group’s products are also ideal for resorts and large-scale energy farms.