MIT researchers have discovered how to use the lead in old batteries to make long lasting solar panels. This could be a classic win-win solution; where your old car battery may one day find a new life, creating enough clean, renewable energy to power nearly 30 households while also helping to reduce lead pollution. An average car battery contains six plates of lead and six plates of lead dioxide making up about 60% of the batteries weight. This lead can be reused to produce solar cells.
It is based on a recent development in solar cells that makes use of a compound called perovskite — specifically, organolead halide perovskite — a technology that has rapidly progressed from initial experiments to a point where its efficiency is nearly competitive with that of other types of solar cells. The lead-based cells are nearly as efficient as silicon-based cells used commercially today, the authors said, and recycled lead is just as effective as newly smelted lead.
Using car batteries as a source of lead for the panels benefits the environment in at least three ways: It recycles the neurotoxic heavy metal and keeps it out of landfills, it reduces the need for mining and smelting, and it creates sustainable, nonpolluting energy.
The system is described in a paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, co-authored by professors Angela M. Belcher and Paula T. Hammond, graduate student Po-Yen Chen, and three others.