The Efficient Power Storage

The Efficient Power Storage

The electric grid is best supplied with consistent energy that can be ramped up and down as demand rises and falls. But inconsistency was a problem. Solar power and wind energy have long faced the challenge of inconsistency.  When the wind stops blowing and the sun sets, power from these sources must be stored. Until now, there was no efficient way to do it.

 

THE LIQUID METAL BATTERY

Researchers are developing a new type of battery, that under operating conditions, uses all liquid interior components. The design could potentially slash the costs of electrical energy storage.

This is funded in part by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — a $6.9 million grant. The technology is under research in Donald Sadoway’s lab and commercialized by the Liquid Metal Battery Corporation.

The liquid metal battery will have all the components of a traditional battery. But each of the standard components will be liquids that maintain temperatures that are several hundred degrees Celsius.

HOW IT WORKS

The liquid metal battery’s advantages over other grid-scale storage solutions relates largely to its costs. It has all of the positive attributes of a typical battery (such as lithium-ion or sodium-sulfur batteries) with far little expense.

The three-layered battery uses affordable metals and molten salts. It has the potential to efficiently store vast amounts of electrical energy.

Each unit operates at 700 degrees Celsius and consists of a lower layer of high-density liquid antimony (the positively charged cathode); a middle layer consisting of an electrolyte (the molten-salt solvent); and an upper layer of less-dense liquid magnesium (the negatively charged anode).

MORE THAN ENOUGH STORAGE AND A HUGE LIFESPAN

Because of the design, the battery’s cells can be scaled to larger sizes. This will provide storage capacities sufficient to manage intermittency of solar and wind-based power generation. When solar or wind production methods produce more energy than is needed, the excess can be stored in the battery for release when there is no sunlight or no wind. This ability to scale easily is key to the battery’s market success. The electrodes of a liquid metal battery won’t suffer stresses or cracks because its active components are liquids.

Regarding its lifespan, it should last for at least ten to fifteen years – and even decades – regardless of the number of cycles the battery goes through.

The Liquid Metal Battery Corporation hopes to cut the price of electrical energy storage as a result of the technology’s low costs.

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