Materials from waste car batteries could be recycled into new long-lasting solar panels, researchers have revealed.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) investigated a recent development in solar technology that a material called perovskite could be used to manufacture solar panels.
This material is more energy efficient to use to manufacture panels than current silicon-based panels.
However, one drawback is that the use of lead in perovskite from raw ores can produce toxic residues.
But by using recycled lead from old car batteries, the manufacturing process can instead be used to divert toxic material from landfill and reuse it to create a cheap source of power for many years.
And because the perovskite photovoltaic material takes the form of a thin film just half a micrometre thick, the scientists say that lead from a single car battery could produce enough solar panels to provide power for 30 households.
Currently, 90 per cent of the lead recovered from the recycling of old batteries is used to make new car batteries.
But as car manufacturers are increasingly using more efficient lithium-ion batteries, there will be a glut of old lead batteries on the market.
MIT professor Paul T. Hammond said: “It is important that we consider the life cycles of the materials in large-scale energy systems. And here we believe the sheer simplicity of the approach bodes well for its commercial implementation.”