An electric-vehicle battery that emits light could save lives and the planet
Google’s battery technology is being tested in an automotive vehicle, but now the company is exploring how the energy can be used to reduce CO2 emissions.
The company is testing the batteries in a range of electric vehicles from the Toyota Prius to the Tesla Model S. The light-emitting cathode is a small-diameter electrode made of graphite, a non-ferrous metal that can emit light in the ultraviolet and visible ranges.
The cathode absorbs ultraviolet light and emits the infrared light needed to produce electricity, making the battery a powerful solar power source.
But when it comes to reducing CO2, the technology is still in its infancy.
“I think we’re at the beginning of the technology,” said Dan Fennell, a professor of materials science and engineering at Harvard University who studies the chemistry of materials.
“We haven’t even begun to figure out the most effective way to use this.”
It takes roughly two hours to charge a battery from the solar cells in a standard electric car.
But the technology has yet to prove itself in a car.
Fennill believes it could one day be used in a gas-powered vehicle.
“We’re looking at the possibility of using these cells in some kind of an automotive battery,” he said.
While Fennel and his colleagues are experimenting with the batteries’ ability to absorb light, the idea is also gaining traction in other areas.
In December, Tesla announced that it had developed an energy-storage technology that would make it possible to store solar energy from the sun and use it to power cars, boats and even houses.
The technology would also be useful in a number of other applications, Fennoll said.
He thinks it could also be used for building solar panels, which use energy to generate electricity for electric grids.
“It’s a lot more powerful than you might think,” he told NPR.