This Battery That Lasts 10 Years Could Revolutionize The Future Of Renewable Energy

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Scientists at Harvard have created a new type of battery that they say could last more than a decade, with very little degradation. If it comes to fruition, it could be a game-changer in storing energy produced by renewable sources.

Published in ACS Energy Letters and led by Michael Aziz and Roy Gordon, the research describes something called a redox flow battery. This is a method of storing charge in tanks of liquid, so while it won’t be powering your smartphone any time soon, it could be revolutionary for powering homes and other areas.

“This approach may provide the decadal lifetimes that enable organic/organometallic redox flow batteries to be cost-effective for grid-scale electricity storage, thereby enabling massive penetration of intermittent renewable electricity,” the authors wrote in their paper.

One major problem with renewable energy is our methods of storing it aren’t great. As energy is created by things like wind farms and solar panels, it is usually sent straight to the electricity grid, but it also needs to be stored when the energy isn’t being consumed immediately.

To do this, we’ve generally relied on lithium-ion batteries. Some companies like Tesla have bet big on this technology, with the firm opening its Gigafactory in Nevada last year, which will more than double the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries.

While tried and tested, lithium-ion batteries suffer from limited lifespans, as well as being rather costly. For this reason, alternatives have been sought – and the flow battery is one contender to the throne.

A flow battery basically works by having two large tanks of a liquid solution. These store charge in the form of positive and negative liquid electrolytes, and when the two solutions flow next to each other, they generate power.

Diagram of a typical flow battery. Nick B, benboy00

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