The team got their inspiration from an ancient technology called the Baghdad Battery, which dates to the first century BC. It consisted of a terracotta pot, a copper sheet and an iron rod along with some trace chemicals that could have been an electrolyte.
Components for Pint's battery sound similar. It begins with a piece of steel, a piece of brass and a jar. The team soaked the metal pieces in a jar with a solution of water and salt or a solution of water and antifreeze. Next, they applied a voltage to induce a known process called anodization, which restructures the nanoscopic composition of a metal. That exposes the metal's interior surface and makes it more receptive to storing and releasing energy.
The next step was to place a physical barrier between the two pieces of metal. Lastly, they submerged it in an electrolyte solution made from water and potassium hydroxide, a soap easily purchased online. When connected by wires to a device that generated a current, such as a solar panel, their contraption worked just like a car battery.
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For their proof-of-concept battery, which is no bigger than a pill bottle, the team found that it could withstand the equivalent of 13 years of daily charging and discharging while retaining 90 percent of its capacity.
After they make the video and solicit feedback, they have plans to refine the design, scale it up and then share it with a wider audience. Anyone could use the DIY battery to store energy from their solar panels and truly disconnect from the power grid, said Pint.
"I have this vision of building an open-source tiny house with a solar panel on top of the roof and a little scrap metal battery out back, and plugging that down somewhere in the mountains," Pint said. "That would be a perfect life."
Pint invites anyone with a similar dream to contact him here.
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