Liquid metal batteries could help bring renewable energy to the grid

Liquid metal batteries could help bring renewable energy to the grid

The biggest problem with renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power is that they’re sporadic and don’t provide consistent amounts of energy. Whereas fossil fuel-burning power plants can adjust the amount of electricity that they generate to fit the current demand, electricity gathered from the wind or sun is intermittent.

Storing the excess electricity that’s generated could allow national electric grids to meet demand much more consistently, but the limitations of current battery technology make this not a viable option. Fortunately, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have found a way to solve this problem.

Donald Sadoway, an electrochemist at MIT, and his colleagues have devised a stationary energy storage solution based on a liquid lithium negative electrode, a molten salt electrolyte and a liquid antimony–lead alloy for the positive electrode. Most other battery types have solid electrodes and sometimes even a solid electrolyte.

“The invention of this three-level liquid metal battery is unique,” says Stanford University’s Robert Huggins. “It is leading to the development of an entirely different type of energy storage device for large-scale applications, in which size, weight and portability are not critical parameters. Instead, cost, high rate performance, safety and lifetime are most important.”

Read more about the story at BBC.

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