Powering our future with University of Southampton
Developing better batteries and alternative power sources is crucial for the future. Cutting-edge research and innovation at Southampton is helping to ensure we get there.
The need for better batteries is clear. Fossil fuels are limited in their supply and are damaging our world. Energy from renewable sources such as the sun and wind is only available when the sun shines and the wind blows. And current batteries are expensive, don’t last long enough, and are heavy and bulky.
Pioneering research by the Electrochemistry Group at University of Southampton is changing this fast – the batteries of the future are within our grasp. There are several strands of ongoing research into different types of batteries and alternative power sources, including hydrogen and thermo-electrics.
Andrea Russell, Professor of Physical Electrochemistry, outlined: “We’re working on electricity production and use, taking carbon out of the electricity cycle. If we want to tackle climate change, we can either take the CO2 out of the atmosphere, or we can stop putting it out there in the first place. We are working on that second option.”
THE HYDROGEN ECONOMY
We currently live in the Carbon Economy. We burn fuels and produce CO2, and we’re living in a carbon cycle. Andrea’s research addresses how we can transition towards a Hydrogen Economy.
“We want to move away from carbon,” she said. “The ultimate fuel is hydrogen and the ultimate source of that would be water, if you can take the hydrogen out of the water using renewables. There is no carbon in the cycle, which is the game changer.”
Hydrogen fuel cells are already used in places such as London buses (pictured right). The only emission is water. But electrolysis – the process of extracting hydrogen from water – remains expensive, plus hydrogen is highly flammable and volatile so needs to be handled and transported with specific precautions.
Read more from University of Southampton here.