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Batteries: The secret to a green future?

Batteries: The secret to a green future?

This lesson has been put together to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It features clips from four talks by female academics from WMG.*

Get the learning materials ready first!

There is a presentation, worksheets and a lesson plan to go along with this content. Since the presentation has the answers to the questions in it we would like to ask teachers to email us at wmgoutreach@warwick.ac.uk to get a copy.

The other files can be downloaded by clicking these links: lesson plan, worksheet.

Learning objectives

  • I can name the main components of a battery:
    • anode, cathode and electrolyte
  • I understand chemical reactions can produce electricity
  • I know lithium is a reactive element commonly used in battery materials
  • I can see how batteries can support a ‘green’ future

Why do we think batteries can support a green future?

a model of the vehicle for Coventry's Very Light Rail project a scientist testing coin cells in a laboratory a person in a heat resistant suit putting items into a furnace A vehicle in a driving simulator an app that can support laser welding

Almost everything we do these days requires electricity in some form. Whether it is transport, entertainment, manufacturing, or anything else, we need power. We have to make sure that power is produced sustainably, in a way that is friendly to our fragile environment.

We believe that batteries and energy storage can play a part in making the future greener because we can produce energy in the most environmentally friendly ways, using renewable methods, and store that energy for use when it is most needed. Batteries allow us to transport energy around the country easily - which is the role that petrol and diesel play in our cars currently. By developing better batteries, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Your task for this lesson

There are four videos for you to watch. While you watch them, you should answer the three questions that go with each video. You can either find the questions by downloading the worksheet here or they are written underneath the videos as well.

What actually is a battery?

Dr Anisha Patel

Would you rather download this video to use in your lesson? You can download it in low or high resolution, with or without captions at the bottom of this page.

Questions

The three questions to answer while watching Anisha's video are:

1. Which particles does Anisha say have to move to generate electricity?

a. electrons b. protons or c. neutrons

2. Which gas is the leading cause of global warming?

a. carbon dioxide b. methane or c. nitrogen

3. Describe what happens when the battery is short circuited.

The answers to these questions are in the presentation your teacher has downloaded ready for the lesson.

What difference have batteries made to the world?

Dr Melanie Loveridge

Would you rather download this video to use in your lesson? You can download it in low or high resolution, with or without captions at the bottom of this page.

Questions

The three questions to answer while watching Melanie's video are:

1. Which element has been crucial to the battery technology revolution?

2. Looking at the periodic table, can you think of an advantage of using lithium (Li) instead of lead (Pb)? Melanie mentions this as one of the reasons lithium is used in batteries.

3. What year was the first electric vehicle made?

a. 1890 b. 1920 c. 1950 d. 1980 or e. 2010

The answers to these questions are in the presentation your teacher has downloaded ready for the lesson.

Can we recycle batteries?

Puja Unadkat

Would you rather download this video to use in your lesson? You can download it in low or high resolution, with or without captions at the bottom of this page.

Questions

The three questions to answer while watching Puja's video are:

1. Describe the concept of a circular economy that Puja mentions.

2. Why can't batteries be put into landfill?

3. We've mentioned lithium already, so write down two other materials Puja lists as being a 'valuable material' used in a battery.

The answers to these questions are in the presentation your teacher has downloaded ready for the lesson.

Energy Storage and Renewable Electricity

Evé Wheeler-Jones

Would you rather download this video to use in your lesson? You can download it in low or high resolution, with or without captions at the bottom of this page.

Questions

The three questions to answer while watching Evé's video are:

1. Why does the energy produced by solar and wind power go up and down each year?

2. Evé mentions an application that would be perfect for the kind of power that batteries can output. What is that application?

a. boiling a kettle or b. lighting street lights

3. Given your answer to Q1 and Evé's talk, why is energy storage important to the success of renewable energy?

The answers to these questions are in the presentation your teacher has downloaded ready for the lesson.

Downloads for video files

Speaker Resolution/File Size Captions
Anisha Patel 480 (low) / 15 MB None Burned in
720 (medium) / 20 MB None Burned in
1080 (high) / 30 MB None Burned in
Melanie Loveridge 480 (low) / 15 MB None Burned in
720 (medium) / 20 MB None Burned in
1080 (high) / 32 MB None Burned in
Puja Unadkat 480 (low) / 13 MB None Burned in
720 (medium) /17 MB None Burned in
1080 (high) / 25 MB None Burned in
Evé Wheeler-Jones 480 (low) / 11 MB None Burned in
720 (medium) / 15 MB None Burned in
1080 (high) / 23 MB None Burned in

*At the time of filming. Anisha has since left to join a team at UCL working on battery development.