While the dye-sensitized solar cell workshops are off to a great start in Uganda, SciBridge volunteers at UT Austin have been working on developing a new experiment kit. This time, our goal is to demonstrate energy conversion with aluminum-air (Al-air) batteries. Metal-air batteries have received a lot of attention over the past few years due to their tremendously high theoretical energy densities. Researchers are hard at work trying to make metal-air batteries rechargeable and more efficient. Our goals for the Al-air battery kits are (1) to let the students make working batteries that can light up a LED and (2) ask critical questions about what makes metal-air batteries so hard to re-charge. This discussion naturally leads to electrocatalysis, another highly active research area.
Today, UT Austin grad students Benjamin and Siyang and our 1st undergraduate student, Kevin, joined me for a fun morning of playing around with the experiment. Check out the photos below!
Siyang carefully applying carbon ink onto nickel mesh to make the air cathode.
Siyang and Benjamin holding the electrical contacts to the battery. After several configurations, we get the LED brightly lit!