Hello everyone, welcome to a sunny day here in Singapore! Before I begin, please do me a favour and close your eyes. Now, imagine
your favourite book in front of you but you cannot read it. This is what it feels
like to be a child living in a third world country at night, where some 79% of families do not have access to electricity. Localised generation of renewable energy can be an effective solution to this. Yet, the high cost of energy storage makes renewable energy inaccessible precisely to those whom they can make the most impact on. Follow me through my project to discover how I’m taking a step towards electricity and education for all, starting from the lab. Welcome into the lab! What I’m holding in my hands is really cool and it’s called a zinc air battery. A zinc air battery works through the oxidation of zinc, together with the reduction
of oxygen. Compared to the existing technologies of Lithium Ion and Lead acid batteries used
to store renewable energy, zinc air batteries are more environmentally friendly, safer,
and more affordable. It also has a higher energy density, so that at night, it will
go from this to this. However, there are some issues with it. The most critical problem
is that the reduction and subsequent re-oxidation of oxygen are often too inefficient. To speed
up these reactions, we sought to create a catalyst, starting with carbon nanotubes and graphene.
Through a facile method, we allowed the components to self assemble into an ultralight aerogel.
To our great surprise, oxide-based nanoparticles induced to nucleate onto the aerogel further
improved its performance. The journey leading to a commercially viable model will certainly
be arduous but let us wait no longer, because children can’t wait to read at night, for
the first time in their lives.
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