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Introducing a Battery So Eco-Safe You Can Actually Eat It

A new saltwater power storage unit could be the key to stemming climate change.

Could common saltwater be the key to cleaner energy?

Solar and wind energy have been game changers, to be sure, but they’ve also proven to be unreliable for large-scale use. Dependent on weather, they often require extra, non-green back-up energy for those literal rainy days. As a result, a high-powered battery is often employed as a backup. Unfortunately, these same batteries often have a short shelf-life, are toxic to the environment, expensive, and occasionally can even catch fire. This has created a demand in the industry for bio-safe batteries that are both cheap and green.

Inside the factory making a revolutionary new battery. Photo via Aquion.

After seeing this need, Carnegie Mellon professor Jay Whitacre sprung to action, and has spent the last five years prototyping a battery so safe you can even eat and drink it. With the help of a team of engineers at his start-up, Aquion Energy--based inside an old railroad engine foundry in Pittsburgh, PA--Whitacre has developed a battery that can be built out of saltwater and other organic components. Unlike the kind you buy at the hardware store, these batteries are meant for use on large-scale projects like power farms and massive grids. The energy, which is absorbed during daylight hours, is then released during the evening.

A peek into the battery causing all the buzz.

French consulting firm Yole Développement estimates that this invention could be “a $13.5 billion opportunity by 2023, ” according to OZY. Aquion has so far raised $135 million in funding, and counts Bill Gates and Shell Oil as investors.

Photo via Aquion.

The invention has also won praise from the MIT Technology Review, Fortune, Popular Science and others for its promise as “a global energy innovator.” Ultimately it’s hoped that by switching from harmful, easily discarded batteries to a more natural option, the population will be better shielded from the devastating effects of usage spikes and natural disasters. In the long run, the team also hopes switching to this renewable energy will help fight climate change.

Photo via Aquion.

Currently over 75 international partners use Aquion batteries, and that number is expected to grow as word gets out. With climate change moving at such a rapid pace, can we really afford to wait?

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