Zinc is a Sustainable Source of Energy
Zinc is used in the manufacture of a variety of battery chemistries, both primary and rechargeable, consumer and industrial. The most well known of these chemistries are the primary zinc-carbon and alkaline batteries, which together dominate the standard AAA, AA, C and D size consumer battery market
Zinc-air and zinc-silver “button cell” batteries are also widely used in the electronics industry to power items such as hearing aids, wrist watches and calculators. Industrial zinc-silver and zinc-nickel batteries are of critical importance in a variety of aeronautic and military applications; while larger zinc-air cells have been developed to power electric vehicles and Remote Area Power Supply (RAPS) installations.
IZA co-funded the largest zinc air fuel cell demonstration project in the world which was implemented by AEDC in the village of Guyuni, South Africa. 300 dwellings now have lights, and a vegetable garden uses waste zinc oxide - created by the fuel cells during energy production - as high value fertilizer, providing food security.
Zinc-air batteries are built of layers of flat “plates” of zinc, a catalyst, an electrolyte and a porous membrane that, when packaged, make a compact flat cell.
The zinc air cell is a particularly interesting technology because it acts as a partial fuel cell using the O2 from air as the cathode. There are portable primary zinc/air batteries and industrial primary zinc/air batteries. There are also electrically rechargeable zinc/air batteries that use a bifunctional oxygen electrode for charge and discharge and mechanically rechargeable zinc/air batteries that require the replacement of discharged anodes.
What is compelling about zinc-air is that it represents three times the energy density of the current state-of-the-art battery (lithium-ion) at a fraction of the cost.
For more information, please visit http://www.zinc.org/batteries.