Electricity storage.. Salt battery is a new and cheap technology


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  • The new molten salt battery uses low-cost, non-toxic materials
  • Wind and solar energy have rapidly replaced coal and natural gas in recent years
  • Rising natural gas and coal prices are accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources

In the absence of the brightness needed to power solar panels and wind turbines not spinning, an electrical grid that seamlessly integrates wind and solar energy needs a way to store electricity in large quantities.

The new molten salt battery can provide a network storage that is cheaper than competitors by using low-cost, non-toxic materials, and it can store electricity for months without losing storage capacity.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (BNL) in the United States have now created such a battery, according to the website of the American “Anthropocean Magazine” published on April 7.

new battery

The new “freeze-thaw” battery stores electricity for months when the active substance inside it transitions from a liquid state to a solid state, and when that material is heated, it can discharge 90% of the stored electricity, the researchers reported in the American journal “Cell Reports Physical Science”.

The magazine’s editor, Minyuan Li, said the battery works a lot like growing food plants in the garden in the spring, putting the extra in a bowl in the fridge, and then thawing it for dinner in the winter.

Moreover, wind and solar energy have rapidly replaced coal and natural gas in recent years and now make up more than 9% of the world’s electricity generation, according to the International Energy Agency.

The rise in natural gas and coal prices due to the war in Ukraine and the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic is expected to accelerate the shift towards renewable energy sources.

Moss Landing Electricity Storage Facility batteries – archive

electricity storage technologies

Long-term electricity storage technologies will be key to the transition to renewables, while most storage networks today rely on expensive lithium-ion batteries, or on lead-acid batteries, which bear the burden of using toxic lead.

Therefore, experts and manufacturers are making an increasing effort to develop new battery technologies such as flow batteries and other types of electricity storage such as gravity-based storage.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (BNL) battery is a type of molten salt battery, a technology that has been around for decades.

Such a battery typically uses molten salt—a substance that is solid at room temperature and becomes liquid when the temperature rises—as the electrolyte that allows charge to flow between the electrodes.

cheap costs

The team of researchers in the lab created a design based on common, low-cost and less reactive materials, compared to the known chemical composition of molten salt batteries.

The anode and negative electrode are made of solid aluminum and nickel, respectively, and the researchers immerse them in a molten salt of a mixture of sodium, aluminum, and chloride.

The battery is charged at 180 degrees Celsius, where the “electrolyte” is in its molten state, allowing ions to flow to generate electricity.

By comparison, commercial molten salt batteries are called sodium sulfur batteries, and they operate at 245-350°C.

Cooling the device to room temperature causes the electrolyte to solidify, keeping its ions in place and providing battery electricity. The battery must be reheated as often as needed to use up that stored electricity.

It is worth noting that tests conducted on the prototype battery the size of a hockey puck showed that it retained 92% of its electricity over 12 weeks.

On the other hand, the stable chemical composition allows the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory battery team of researchers to make a significant upgrade.

Furthermore, traditional high-temperature molten salt batteries require brittle ceramic separators between the electrodes, which may be more expensive and can break during the freeze-thaw cycle.

Technology development

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory battery researchers used a cheaper and stronger fiberglass separator, and estimated the cost of the battery material to be around $23 per kilowatt-hour.

The researchers expect that they can cut the cost to about $6 per kilowatt-hour by using inexpensive metals such as iron, which is about 15 times less than the cost of materials used in current lithium-ion batteries.

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