Ah, ‘the fun of batteries’

By Luke Ginn, Queensland University of Technology 

Batteries are becoming increasingly important in today’s society, with the latest release of Tesla’s Powerwall (house battery) and Tesla’s ever cheaper all electric cars, we can begin to see the importance that batteries are going to have on future society.

Along with constant improvements in the cost and efficiency of solar panels, the combination of batteries and solar power being used as main source of our energy, is becoming more and more a possibility. 

The possibility can lead to the next step in humanity. Within a century, we may be living in electrically renewable and green homes, due to these advancements, from there our culture will change into a more green society, as we learn to be more sustainable about our food and other supplies such as plastics.

With all this in mind, along with my passion for mathematics and chemistry, I decided I wanted to spend my summer mathematically modelling batteries. I specifically looked into primary alkaline batteries, which are most typically AAA batteries. In the process of the summer, I realised when modelling something, you develop a very deep understanding of the topic, because you need to know every important part of  the topic, to have a successful model. 

Through the project and the solutions I obtained, I gained a great insight behind the chemical mechanisms that occur in these batteries, which no scientists have been able to observe yet, due to limitations in current technology. I was able to realise that the reactions are happening at a constant rate for most of the life of a battery, but then very quickly diminish the energy reserves towards the end of the batteries life. Although I’m yet to create the next big battery, my foot is in the door with a deep understanding of both batteries and mathematics in general and it was a great project!

 

Luke Ginn was one of the recipients of a 2015/16 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.

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