Researchers have been looking into different ways to harness the power of nature to produce electricity due to the constantly increasing demand for renewable energy sources. The notion of a sand battery is one such original concept. An inexpensive and ecologically friendly battery called a sand battery has the potential to store renewable energy and lessen the load on the electrical grid. In this piece, we will talk about the state of sand battery technology right now and a few businesses that are looking into this innovative new field.
What exactly is a sand battery?
A sand battery, also referred to as a microbial fuel cell (MFC), is a machine that produces energy through the interaction of microorganisms with sand. The microbes and archaea in the sand break down the organic material, releasing electrons in the process. Electrodes buried in the sand trap these electrons, creating an electrical charge.
Current Developments in Sand Battery Technology:
Although sand batteries are still in their infancy, recent years have seen a major advancement in research. A sand battery that might be used to charge small electronics was created in 2018 by a group of researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz. An MFC with a maximum power density of 0.5 watts per square meter was created by the researchers using sand, graphite, and bacteria.
The University of East Anglia in the UK developed a sand battery in 2019 that could produce energy from urine. An MFC that generated enough energy to run a smartphone was developed by the researchers using bacteria and sand.
Companies Investigating Sand Battery Technology: Despite the fact that sand battery technology is still in its infancy, a number of businesses are looking into its creative potential.
A Spanish business called Bioo Bioo is working to create a variety of items, including sand batteries, that produce energy from renewable resources. The firm has developed a plant pot that produces electricity from soil’s organic matter and a pavement tile that does the same from the pressure of walking. The moisture in the sand can be used by Bioo to create energy through the development of a sand battery.
Farmers can obtain soil research services from SoilCares, a Dutch business. The business has created a sand battery that uses the organic material in the soil to produce energy. In rural regions with limited access to electricity, the battery is being used to power soil analysis equipment by SoilCares.
Technologies Without Cells:
Using microbial fuel cells, US-based Cell-Free Technologies is creating a variety of goods, including sand batteries. The business is creating a sand battery that can turn wastewater into energy. Potentially, wastewater treatment facilities could be powered by the sand battery, lowering the amount of energy needed from the grid.
A variety of goods using sand batteries are being developed by the Canadian business Innova Materials. A battery developed by the business can be used to charge portable electronics like smartphones and tablets. Sand batteries, which could be used to hold renewable energy from sources like solar and wind power, are another possibility being investigated by Innova Materials.
Sand for use in the oil and gas business is produced and supplied by the US-based company Smart Sand. The business is looking into the possibility of making sand cells with its sand. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Smart Sand have collaborated to create a sand battery that can produce energy from natural gas generated during oil and gas exploration.
Tech problems with sand batteries:
Although sand batteries have the ability to be a cheap and eco-friendly source of electricity, there are still a number of issues that need to be resolved.
Power Density is low:
Sand batteries currently have poor power density in comparison to other battery types. As a result, they might not be appropriate for high-power uses.
Scaling up sand battery technology from a laboratory to commercial size is one of the biggest challenges it faces. Although scientists have made great strides in developing tiny sand batteries that can run tiny electronics, scaling up the technology to run bigger applications like homes or companies is still a very difficult task.
Although sand battery technology is still in its infancy, it has the potential to be an affordable and sustainable source of energy. The technology must be scaled up, durability and longevity must be improved, and possible contamination problems must be addressed, among other issues. Despite these difficulties, a number of businesses are researching the potential of sand batteries and creating cutting-edge new goods that utilize the force of nature to produce electricity. Sand batteries could replace conventional battery technologies as a feasible option with more research and development, paving the way for a more sustainable future.