New battery could store wind and solar electricity affordably and at room temperature



The technology -- a type of battery known as a flow battery -- has long been considered as a likely candidate for storing intermittent renewable energy. However, until now the kinds of liquids that could produce the electrical current have either been limited by the amount of energy they could deliver or have required extremely high temperatures or used very toxic or expensive chemicals.

Stanford assistant professor of materials science and engineering William Chueh, along with his PhD student Antonio Baclig and Jason Rugolo, now a technology prospector at Alphabet's research subsidiary X Development, decided to try sodium and potassium, which when mixed form a liquid metal at room temperature, as the fluid for the electron donor -- or negative -- side of the battery. Theoretically, this liquid metal has at least 10 times the available energy per gram as other candidates for the negative-side fluid of a flow battery.

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