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Recycled Solar Panels

September 2, 2014

Engineers are creating highly efficient solar cells from recycled lead-acid car batteries.



The Tire Zoo Flickr

Lead-acid batteries are going the way of the Dodo. (The Tire Zoo/Flickr)

Solar cells from old batteries. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Solar cells made using recycled car batteries could soon be powering homes. According to MIT materials scientist Angela Belcher, older lead-acid batteries are giving way to more efficient models. That leaves a lot of unused lead lying around. She and her team, which included graduate student Po-Yen Chen, have been dismantling lead-acid batteries and repurposing them to create thin coatings for solar cells, which convert the sun’s energy into power for homes.

ANGELA BELCHER (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):

And so, we can isolate the lead out, and that converts into, depending on where you are in Cambridge, Massachusetts here, about 13 to 14 residential units, or in Las Vegas, about 30.


That’s because Las Vegas gets more sun. She says the lead is encased in other materials, making it safe and environmentally friendly. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.