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Novel Environmentally Friendly Battery System

A team led by professors Zhengyan Wu and Jia Zhang from the Institute of Intelligence at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Hefei Institutes of Physical Science worked with professor Dongqing Cai from Donghua University to develop a new primary battery system that can efficiently remove Cd2+ from the environment while generating electricity.

Novel Environmentally Friendly Battery System.
Mechanism of primary battery based on Cd2+-contaminated (a) water and (b) soil. Image Credit: CHEN Chaowen

The researchers explained how they created this system using Cd2+-contaminated media (water or soil) as the electrolyte, graphite as the cathode, and zinc as the anode in a study that was just published in Fundamental Research.

The high solubility and migration rate of Cd2+ have adverse effects on both the environment and human health. Traditional methods are capable of cleaning up Cd2+-contaminated water and soil, but their wide range of practical applications could be limited by their high energy requirements and complicated operation.

The development of innovative remediation solutions for Cd2+-contaminated media is, therefore, urgently needed.

Through the reduction of dissolved oxygen by internal galvanic processes in the battery, the battery system efficiently solidified and removed Cd2+ from water and soil. A large amount of OH was generated and precipitated with Cd2+ driven by an electric field.

By interconnecting many main battery systems in series, they created an output power supply. In the process of Cd2+ removal, LEDs were continuously lit.

The idea is to kill two birds with one stone.

Chaowen Chen, Study First Author, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Following the use of this technique, they assessed the health of plants, zebrafish, and soil microorganisms.

With a wide range of potential applications, the technology is cheap, conserves green energy, and is easy to operate.

The Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Plan of the Anhui Major Provincial Science and Technology Project provided funding for this study.

Journal Reference:

Chen, C., et al. (2023) A primary battery for efficient cadmium contamination remediation and electricity generation. Fundamental Research. doi:10.1016/j.fmre.2023.03.001.


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