Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the usa are proposing a new method to mitigate lead pollution by recycling toxic materials from old car batteries and provide lead for next-generation perovskite solar cells.

Organolead halide perovskite materials are attracting attention as an efficient light harvester and electron transporter for solid-state solar cells. And with power conversion efficiencies over 19% and a relatively simple, inexpensive fabrication process, perovskite solar cells show great promise as next-generation large-scale cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. However , the manufacture of perovskite solar cells raises environmental concerns regarding the overproduction of raw lead ore, which has harmful health and ecological effects.

The concept could help reduce the dependence on mining new lead ore somewhat.

MIT’s goal is to recycle the electrodes of car batteries to harvest lead from the anode and lead dioxide from the cathodes and to synthesise lead(II) iodide (PbI2), the precursor of perovskite materials for solar cells, from the collected materials. The method’s final step is depositing lead iodide perovskite nanocrystals.

The benefits would be twofold: The health and environmental concerns about the current procedures used to mine and refine the lead essential for synthesising the organolead halide perovskite materials could be reduced. The extraction from the raw lead ore generates greenhouse gases and dangerous fumes as byproducts. Furthermore, as next-generation energy storage solutions will inevitably replace lead-acid batteries in cars, the lead from those obsolete batteries will no longer be recycled to make new car batteries. The researchers estimate over 200 million lead-acid batteries could be retired in the usa alone. “Our new method can solve these two problems simultaneously, ” says chemical engineering graduate student Po-Yen Chen, MIT, who co-authored the paper “Environmentally-responsible fabrication of efficient perovskite solar cells from recycled car batteries” in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.

Because perovskite-based photovoltaic films are so thin, the MIT groups' analysis shows that the lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.

The win-win concept’s road to implementation in the industry could be relatively straightforward. “The car battery recycling process is well-established and can easily be adapted into the fabrication of perovskite-based solar cells, ” Chen says. Some companies are already gearing up for commercial production of perovskite photovoltaic panels, which will require new resources of lead and processing that will expose miners and smelters to toxic fumes. Recycling lead from old car batteries would resolve those safety issues.

What is more, in a finished perovskite solar panel, the lead-containing layer would be fully encapsulated by other materials, thus limiting the danger of lead contamination. When those panels are eventually retired, the lead can be recycled into new solar panels.

Written by Sandra Henderson, Research Editor, Novus Light Technoogies Today

You will find this solar lighting via click here. There is another article about solar light, visit here.