APR 08, 2020 8:59 AM PDT

The Future of Battery in a Rear View Mirror

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

Currently electrochemical batteries is the front and center of energy storage, but their production often put a great strain on mineral resources. Not to mention that the mining process for metals used in them, such as nickel, lithium, and cobalt, have an overwhelming impact on the environment and our society.

As the renewable energy sector growing in an unprecedented pace, scientists are going back the drawing board to develop batteries that are equally environmentally cautious. And interestingly, many of the new designs borrow ideas from an older time.

Take compressed air for example, it is an often overlooked source of energy. Before being replaced by diesel or electricity-powered engines, the fireless locomotive is a type of machine that get their power from a reservoir of compressed air or steam, instead of a coal-burning boiler. 

Using a similar principle, scientists are developing a type of mega energy-storing structure that can be charged by pumping the air into enclosed underground caves. These inexpensive, high capacity batteries release energy by letting out the stored air, which in turn drives a generator's turbines.

As proven in the early industrial era, gravitational force can also be used in energy storage. Imaginie an electricity-powered train goes up a long and gentle slope. The climb transforms electricity into potential energy, which can later be released as the train travels down the hill by gravity. 

A Swiss startup developed a prototype battery that employs the gravity-potential energy principle. Using three commonly seen elements - heavy cement blocks, cranes, and motors, their system can charge or discharge simply by building or dissembling block towers.

Although many old-school methods need polishing and fine-tuning to make them apt for nowadays applications, it is still evident that our high-tech future could benefit from these low-tech, sustainable energy-storing solutions.

Source: SciShow via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
JUN 18, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Enhanced organic electrochemical transistor better measures extracellular electron transfer
JUN 18, 2020
Enhanced organic electrochemical transistor better measures extracellular electron transfer
In an article recently released in Advanced Science, scientists at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics at Linköpi ...
JUL 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Carbon Nanolattices: Lighter Than (Atomic) Feathers, Tougher Than Diamonds
JUL 02, 2020
Carbon Nanolattices: Lighter Than (Atomic) Feathers, Tougher Than Diamonds
Carbon is known for its plentiful allotropes, such as the naturally existing graphite and diamond, as well as synthetic ...
JUL 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Microbots Show Promise for Advancing Single-Cell Tissue Biopsy
JUL 08, 2020
Microbots Show Promise for Advancing Single-Cell Tissue Biopsy
A biopsy is an invasive, interventional procedure that involves extracting a tissue sample for the diagnosis o ...
JUL 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Bigger Isn't Always Better: CERN's Super Accelerator Plan Stirs Intense Debates
JUL 10, 2020
Bigger Isn't Always Better: CERN's Super Accelerator Plan Stirs Intense Debates
Let's dial the clock back in 2012.  This year was marked by a major scientific breakthrough - the discovery of ...
JUL 18, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Scientists develop new hydrogel material
JUL 18, 2020
Scientists develop new hydrogel material
A study published recently is Soft Matter from scientists at Lehigh University describes a hydrogel material that is abl ...
AUG 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The fluid dynamics of injection-induced earthquakes
AUG 06, 2020
The fluid dynamics of injection-induced earthquakes
While injection-induced earthquakes have become commonplace in oil fields where wastewater is pumped deep into the Earth ...
Loading Comments...