Perovskite solar cells have been on the radar of many cleantech enthusiasts these days. Of course, they are not yet competitive with commercial solar cells, but they seem to have promise and many good qualities. One quality with lead-based perovskite solar cells that isn’t so hot is that raw lead ore production is pretty nasty — bad for human health and the environment.
Lead-acid batteries are one of the most heavily recycled products around (thankfully). 90% of the lead from old batteries is recycled for use in new batteries. However, the lead-acid battery market is under threat from lithium-ion batteries and the lead from old batteries may not be in as great of demand down the line.
Putting 1 + 1 together, lead from old lead-acid batteries could potentially be used in perovskite solar cells. An MIT team has gotten behind this idea for the production of organolead halide perovskite solar cells. Ut has also described a system for doing so in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Perovskite Solar Cell Potential
A CleanTechnica reader and frequent commenter, James Wimberly, recently wrote up a great summary article on perovskite solar cells and a recent advancement in their development, so I would recommend reading that. Here’s a good summary line on the perovskite solar cell from Angela M. Belcher, W.M. Keck Professor of Energy at MIT and one of the paper co-authors, as well: “It went from initial demonstrations to good efficiency in less than two years.”
Specifically, perovskite solar cells have reached an efficiency of over 19% in the lab, close to what commercial solar cells get (but still a ways off from the lab records for several other types of PV cells).
MIT notes that the lead from one old lead-acid car battery would be enough for solar panels that could power 30 average households.