A researcher at USC has developed a new method for inexpensive batteries that could be used for renewable power storage. These batteries use the oxidization of iron exposed to air (also known as rust) to store energy. As professor Sri Narayan says about his process, "Iron is cheap and air is free."
This process that has been known for decades, but another chemical reaction, known as hydrolisis, which also takes place in the battery, reduced the stored charge by nearly half, making these batteries too inefficient to be useful. Dr. Narayan's improvement to make these batteries viable is to add a small amount of bismuth sulfide (a material related to Pepto-Bismol) which stops the hydrogen generation reaction, and reduces the losses in the battery to less than 4 percent.
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