3

It was claimed in this article in 2019 that a nano-battery using water splitting technology is developed. It is described as:

The battery gains its charge by interacting with water molecules present in the surrounding air. When a water molecule comes in contact with the reactive, outer metal section of the battery, it is split into its constituent parts — one molecule of oxygen and two of hydrogen. The hydrogen molecules become trapped inside the battery and can be stored until they are ready to be used. In this state, the battery is "charged." To release the charge, the reaction reverses. The hydrogen molecules move back through the reactive metal section of the battery and combine with oxygen in the surrounding air.

There are hardy any details on the article regarding the mechanism of this reaction and what the material of “the reactive, outer metal section” is. And I have found no paper published with this research. The description makes this battery sounds like a perpetual machine: splitting waters from environment into oxygen and hydrogen, and make hydrogen and oxygen react to create electricity. What would be a good explanation of the mechanisms that makes this possible? I guess there must be other things going on to keep this described mechanism going, which limits the life of this battery.

It is also claimed that:

The batteries have also demonstrated a power density that is two orders of magnitude greater than most currently used batteries.

But no experimental data is provided (since there’s no paper found).

Is this result somehow exaggerated? Since no application of this battery has been recorded. Also what is the water-splitting mechanism? If it is really this amazing I believe it can be applied inside human bodies to split water and power devices as well, since both nanoscale and larger scale such batteries can be made. But is such technology really practical and applicable now?

12
  • 6
    The "two orders of magnitude greater than most currently used batteries" isn't 2x but 100x: an extraordinary claim! It's a project by researchers who admit "none of us are battery people." But they seem to have overlooked that in very dry air, it won't work. Nov 10 at 16:39
  • 2
    It doesn't actually say whether or not the reactive metal is used up as part of the process. Zinc air or aluminum air batteries seem like magic, creating electricity from fresh air, until you realise that the metal is consumed as part of the process.
    – Simon B
    Nov 10 at 20:06
  • 3
    apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/AD1098927.pdf Link to research report that describes the work in detail. Nov 11 at 4:33
  • 2
    I think treating the original article as a technical document rather than an enhanced press release was most of the skeptical problem. Nov 11 at 15:09
  • 2
    @RLR That would have been a violation of thermodynamics. You need energy to split water molecules. Indeed, you ned MORE energy to split them up than you'll gain joining them back again.
    – Rekesoft
    Nov 12 at 9:24

Browse other questions tagged .