Monday, August 13, 2012

Revolutionary Liquid Energy Storage Technology

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a new inexpensive battery technology that could revolutionize energy storage. This new battery technology could prove to be the holy grail of renewable energy storage, particularly at night when there is no light to power solar cells or when there is no wind to turn turbines. The new storage technology could overcome the obstacle of intermittent supply which is the greatest obstacle facing the widespread adoption of clean energy.

This technology could also significantly reduce the size of electric car battery systems and potentially double the range of electric vehicles.

Initial tests have used batteries the size of a shot glass, a hockey puck, and most recently a six-inch-wide version, with 200 times the power-storage capacity of the initial version.

The new approach to batteries was created by Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT and the senior author of a paper along with MIT Materials Processing Center Research Affiliate David Bradwell MEng and their team. They published their research in the Journal of the American Chemical Society in 2012.

In this revolutionary technology there are two types of this semi-solid liquids one is positively charged, the other is negatively charged. These two liquids are pumped through the system which causes the exchange of lithium ions across a permeable membrane that triggers an external current. All three layers are composed of materials that are abundant and inexpensive (magnesium, magnesium chloride, and antimony) . The battery system operates at a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius, or 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit.

As reported in a Yale Environment article, lead researcher Yet-Ming Chiang says the power-per-unit potential will be 10 times greater than conventional designs.

This affordable storage capacity has greater longevity and lower cost than existing methods of energy storage and could make all the difference in the drive towards clean energy.

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