Holy Kordesch life

Karl KORDESCH (1922-2011)
Some objects are so much a part of our daily lives that we don’t even think about them. Alkaline batteries are among these irreplaceable “utilities”, even if one of their characteristics is precisely that they are replaceable. As such, they are sold to us as non-rechargeable batteries. And yet…
One of the inventors of the alkaline (“single-use”) battery, Karl Kordesch, initially designed it as a reusable battery unit. The Austrian-born chemist also led research on fuel cells for aviation applications, which were used in the Apollo missions. According to him, alkaline batteries were indeed rechargeable, provided they were robust enough and equipped with a hydrogen absorber to prevent leaks and explosions. But these two potential flaws alone justified “Do not recharge” warnings on these batteries.

In 1984, Kordesch partnered with the American company Rayovac to launch his alkaline batteries, along with a regenerator that could restore them up to 25 times. But the product soon vanished, after the market favored the rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Unfortunately, consumers were just as quick to forget that alkaline batteries were not necessarily single-use sundries.

If we had followed Kordesch’s guidelines, we probably could have significantly reduced the amount of electronic wastes produced by alkaline batteries as well as their environmental impact by now. That is what Atelier 21, the NGO laboratory behind the Paleo-energy project, intends to do with the Regenbox.

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