March 05, 2009
All-Liquid Batteries One Third The Cost

MIT battery researcher Donald Sadoway thinks he might have a new battery design that will cut costs and make large scale solar electric power storage practical.

Without a good way to store electricity on a large scale, solar power is useless at night. One promising storage option is a new kind of battery made with all-liquid active materials. Prototypes suggest that these liquid batteries will cost less than a third as much as today's best batteries and could last significantly longer.

60,000 square meters of battery volume would be enough to meet peak demand in New York City.

Sadoway envisions wiring together large cells to form enormous battery packs. One big enough to meet the peak electricity demand in New York City--about 13,000 megawatts--would fill nearly 60,000 square meters.

Sadoway's team hopes to have a commercial battery in 5 years.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 05 12:18 AM  Energy Batteries

pond said at March 5, 2009 9:05 AM:

Sheesh, journalists really need some basic science...or even math. Did that guy really think you can 'fill' an area?

Or does he imagine those 60,000 m2 rising as high as the Empire State Building...or as high as a AA battery?

David Govett said at March 5, 2009 10:20 AM:

Suggestion: Change "All Liquid Batteries" to "All-Liquid Batteries." As it is, it sounds like someone is having a sale on batteries.

Fat Man said at March 5, 2009 10:21 PM:

I think this gets a sure why not, but this is technology for fixed industrial locations. The things use molten magnesium (Mg melts at 650 C) so they will be hot. I have no idea why this technology should better than others such as NaS, which is already in service. Either way, it is expensive.

Paul F. Dietz said at March 7, 2009 7:18 PM:

I have no idea why this technology should better than others such as NaS, which is already in service.

Sodium-sulfur batteries have a solid electrolye (beta-alumina, I believe). This electrolyte can degrade, fracture, etc. The idea of making the electrolyte also be a molten material seems quite clever to me.

Glen Gordon said at March 8, 2009 3:14 PM:

This is a similar idea to the vanadium redox battery, developed by Maria Skyllas-Kazacos at the University of New South Wales back in the 1980's. The vanadium battery uses an aqueous solution of different vanadium compounds, and is currently in operation at various sites, especially power stations around the world, in pilot projects...

Paul F. Dietz said at March 9, 2009 6:51 PM:

The vanadium redox cells still need a membrane, and membranes are a major source of cost in such devices (and in fuel cells). This molten battery has no membrane, just another molten layer, which should have low manufacturing cost beyond the cost of the bulk material.

Kiwiiano said at March 10, 2009 2:56 AM:

Pond said it.... The article using the measurement 60,000 sqm somehow implies this a large amount. It's about 14 acres. Note that Central Park is 843 acres. I'd be surprised if NY didn't already devote far more space to reticulation of electricity. The real problem would be the area covered by the solar cells needed to take advantage of these promising new batteries. Fingers crossed that they can get into production before the perfect storm of overpopulation, resource depletion and climate change bring everything to a grinding halt.

Heretic38501 said at March 12, 2009 5:10 PM:

60,000 m2 is a unit of area not volume. That number tells us nothing.

Paul F. Dietz said at March 12, 2009 6:31 PM:

60,000 m2 is a unit of area not volume. That number tells us nothing.

Actually, it's probably related to the power required; just divide the power required by the achieved areal power density (power/area).

Volume will be determined by the amount of energy that needs to be stored. To some extent, these can be varied independently of each other by making the cells taller or shorter.

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