IISER team perfecting battery that recharges using light

A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research-Pune (IISER) is developing a battery that can recharge itself fully by just sunning itself.

The photovoltaic technology promises sustainable and more efficient future for clean energy production.

The realization of the technology would mean that the paraphernalia currently required for recharging batteries, such as power sockets or solar panels, could become obsolete. Named photo battery, the technology would pack the functions of power production and storage in one device.

And it promises less polluting, more efficient photovoltaics.

Lead researcher OT Mustafa says the technology doesn’t necessarily require sunlight. It can work with other forms of light as well. “In our studies we have measured the capacity of the photo battery by tuning the light source. It does work in ambient light also but the capacity is lesser when compared with UV-Vis light shone on it.”

ALSO READ: 24M’s cell technology promises to halve lithium-ion battery costs

In a test, the researchers were able to run a tiny fan for 100 cycles of 30 seconds each with recharge time of half a minute between cycles. The device retained efficiency of more than 97 percent at the end of the test.

Mustafa says the device will last longer than conventional systems as its anode does not wear out due to discharge reactions unlike conventional counterparts.

The setup comprises a titanium nitride photoanode, (the part that releases electrons when light is shone on it), iron(III) hexacyanoferrate(II) cathode (the part that receives electrons) and sodium persulfate (Na2S2O8) as the chemical charging agent (the storage part).

Although the researchers have not made a direct comparison of efficiency of the technology with existing photovoltaic technologies such as solar panels, Mustafa indicates there would be significant reduction in efficiency losses.

“The efficiency loss will be reduced by almost 50 percent since we significantly brought down the number of architectural components in the system,” he says. “Efficiency loss has been reduced by avoiding the use of dyes and junctions, and by simultaneously storing the energy generated.”

One major factor that makes any technology feasible is its cost. Being at an early stage of development the researchers are yet to come up with specifics on cost but aver that it would be far cheaper than other power generation devices such as solar panels.

The researchers are currently conducting further studies such as estimation of incident photon to current conversion(IPCE) for the TiN photoanode to quantify the measures of efficiency.

“I am developing the system further so that I can power electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and laptops using photo battery. At that stage it will definitely replace photovoltaic solar cells,” Mustafa says.

And the technology would also be “environment-friendly because unlike solar cells and batteries it does not use non aqueous solvents”.

The Journal of Physical Chemistry C has published a paper submitted by the team explaining the technology. It has also been featured in similar publications.

Ajith Kumar S