Here’s an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations

>> The researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions

MIT researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about a third the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions. Courtesy of the researchers. Left photo: Felice Frankel.

MIT researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about a third the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions. Courtesy of the researchers. Left photo: Felice Frankel.

MIT researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about a third the price of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions. Courtesy of the researchers. Left photo: Felice Frankel.

As the world is becoming more conscious about environment and global warming, alternative energy resources are becoming more popular. The same is the case with wind and solar power.

But, as MIT researchers point out, intermittency issues keep them from connecting widely to the U.S. grid: They require energy-storage systems that, at the cheapest, run about $100 per kilowatt hour and function only in certain locations.

Now researchers from MIT have come up with an innovative way to address the issue.

The researchers have developed an “air-breathing” battery that could store electricity for very long durations for about one-fifth the cost of current technologies, with minimal location restraints and zero emissions.

“The battery could be used to make sporadic renewable power a more reliable source of electricity for the grid,” says a statement issued by MIT on the research.

“This battery literally inhales and exhales air, but it doesn’t exhale carbon dioxide, like humans — it exhales oxygen,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. He is also the co-author of a paper describing the battery.

Then what is the cost of the batteries. The battery’s total chemical cost, which includes the combined price of the cathode, anode, and electrolyte materials, is about 1/30th the cost of competing batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries.

“A major issue with batteries over the past several decades, Chiang says, has been a focus on synthesizing materials that offer greater energy density but are very expensive. The most widely used materials in lithium-ion batteries for cellphones, for instance, have a cost of about $100 for each kilowatt hour of energy stored,” states in the research paper.

“For its anode, the rechargeable flow battery uses cheap, abundant sulfur dissolved in water. An aerated liquid salt solution in the cathode continuously takes in and releases oxygen that balances charge as ions shuttle between the electrodes. Oxygen flowing into the cathode causes the anode to discharge electrons to an external circuit. Oxygen flowing out sends electrons back to the anode, recharging the battery,” the press statement says.

According to MIT the development of the battery began in 2012, when Chiang joined the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. It was conceived as a five-year project that brought together about 180 researchers to collaborate on energy-saving technologies.

 

 

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