Here, we demonstrate an ambient-temperature aqueous rechargeable flow battery that uses low-cost polysulfide anolytes in conjunction with lithium or sodium counter-ions, and an air- or oxygen-breathing cathode. The solution energy density, at 30–145 Wh/L depending on concentration and sulfur speciation range, exceeds current solution-based flow batteries, and the cost of active materials per stored energy is exceptionally low, ∼US$1/kWh when using sodium polysulfide. The projected storage economics parallel those for PHS and CAES but can be realized at higher energy density and with minimal locational constraints.
[cell.com] – Air-Breathing Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage
Cleantechnica.com calls for caution:
[cleantechnica.com] – Sulfur Battery Promises Less Expensive Grid Scale Storage Solution
You can take this story with a grain of salt, literally and figuratively. Researchers at MIT, responding to a challenge issued by the US Department of Energy, have developed a new battery for use by utility companies to store electricity that costs 100 times less than the conventional lithium ion batteries in use today. The new battery uses sulfur, air, water, and salt — all readily available materials that are cheap to buy. The new battery has store twice as much energy as a typical lead acid battery. Their research was published for the first time on October 11 by energy journal Joule… Under the leadership of former Energy Department head Steven Chu, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research set a goal of reducing grid storage battery costs by a factor of five while increasing energy density also by a factor of five and all within five years… “Through an accidental laboratory discovery, we figured out that it could actually be oxygen, and therefore air. We needed to add one other component, which was a charge carrier to go back and forth between the sulfur and air electrode, and that turned out to be sodium.” The total chemical cost of their proposed battery is roughly $1 per kilowatt-hour. Since all the chemical components of the battery are dissolved in water, the researchers decided to use a flow battery architecture. In a flow battery, a system of pumps and tubes causes the components of the battery to flow past each other, generating chemical reactions that help it capture electrons… The sulfur-oxygen-salt battery under development currently has a useful life of 1500 hours — far less than the 20-year lifespan needed to attract commercial interest in the technology. The researchers have a long way to go yet, but the prospect of ultra low cost grid storage makes their quest worthwhile.
The Swiss engineering company ABB has teamed up with Northvolt of Sweden to build the largest lithium-ion battery plant in Europe in order to meet growing demand from the automotive industry. The plant should rival the Gigafactory in the Nevada desert. Target: 32 GWh in 2023. 80-100 million euro will be necessary to get production started.
[reuters.com] – ABB teams up with Northvolt on Europe’s biggest battery plant
Short German study regarding an inventory of power-to-gas projects, see map. Currently in Germany there are 36 PtG projects operational and 12 of those were highlighted, all demonstration projects. Start date projects 2010-2017. Power range 0.15 MW bis 6.3 MW. 9 projects are about hydrogen production, in 2 projects produced hydrogen is converted into methane. Reported efficiencies: 65-80% which includes heat utilization.
Most potential in systems integration and transport. Efficiency increases hydrogen production until 2030 are estimated as between 5-10%. Potential cost decrease until 2030: 30-70%. The majority of respondents expect PtG to be competitive with natural gas between 2020-2040 and of those a majority between 2020-2030.
EasyJet says that electric flying could be with us in a decade and for that purpose has begun a partnership with US firm Wright Electric to build a battery-powered plane for two hours flight duration.
[theguardian.com] – EasyJet says it could be flying electric planes within a decade
[money.cnn.com] – Your airliner may be flying electric within a decade
[telegraph.co.uk] – EasyJet could be flying battery-powered electric planes within the next 10 years
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has designed a “competitor” for natural photosynthesis in plants in a setup where CO2 from the atmosphere is transformed into Ethanol (C2H5OH or CH3−CH2−OH or C2H5−OH) and Ethylene (C2H4 or H2C=CH2) using renewable electricity, with an efficiency far greater than in plants: 3-5% vs 0.2-2%.
Molecular models representing a 2D heterostructure made of graphene (gray background hexagonal lattice), and islands on top of hexagonal WS2 and MoS, as well as an alloy of the two. Water (H2O) molecules in red (oxygen) and gray (hydrogen) come from the bottom left hand side and get transformed catalytically after interacting with the heterostructures into H2 bubbles (top right hand side). Credit: Penn State Materials Research Institute.
Platinum is a near perfect catalyst for splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The only drawback is that it is very expensive. Researchers from Houston, Penn State and Florida State University claim to have found a cheaper replacement: Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). A Swiss team already proposed this solution in 2011.
No efficiency numbers are given.
The Wiley link from 2016 mentions 12.4%
[phys.org] – Low cost, scalable water splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy
[phys.org] – Researchers report new, more efficient catalyst for water splitting
[pubs.rsc.org] – Amorphous MoS2 films as catalysts for electrochem. H2 prod. in H2O
[pubs.acs.org] – Amorphous Molybdenum Sulfides as Hydrogen Evolution Catalysts
[onlinelibrary.wiley.com] – MoS2 as a co-catalyst for photocatalytic hydrogen production from water
[wikipedia.org] – Molybdenum disulfide
[wikipedia.org] – Gibbs free energy
Solutions like these can be seen as a storage facility. Produce ice when there is abundant cheap renewable electricity and release the cold when it is needed and electricity supply is low and prices are high.
Core idea: freeze air with excess renewable electricity for storage purposes and when you need electricity, warm the liquid air with heat from the environment and as such create high pressure air that can be used to drive a generator. Advantage: scalability, mature technology, low cost, high lifespan, possibility to include waste heat (for instance from powerstations) to increase efficiency. 50 MWh typical storage volume (“entry level”).
In isolation the process is only 25% efficient, but this is greatly increased (to around 50%) when used with a low-grade cold store, such as a large gravel bed, to capture the cold generated by evaporating the cryogen. The cold is re-used during the next refrigeration cycle. Efficiency is further increased when used in conjunction with a power plant or other source of low-grade heat that would otherwise be lost to the atmosphere. Highview Power Storage claims an AC to AC round-trip efficiency of 70%, by using an otherwise waste heat source at 115 °C. The IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) agrees that these estimates for a commercial-scale plant are realistic. However this number was not checked or confirmed by independent professional institutions.
[lowcarbonfutures.org] – Liquid Air Technologies – a guide to the potential
[highview-power.com] – Highview company site
[energystorage.org] – Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES)
[renewableenergyworld.com] – A Look at Liquid Air Energy Storage Technology
[wikipedia.org] – Cryogenic energy storage
[the-linde-group.com] – Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES)
[highview-power.com] – Liquid air storage tour
[wikipedia.org] – Georges Claude
[wikipedia.org] – Liquefaction of gases
One month to go to the Solar Challenge 2017 in Australia.
Technical University Eindhoven
Technical University Delft
Technical University Twente
Location: Kobierzyce Commune near Wroclaw in southwestern Poland
Production start: 2020
Production volume: 100,000 320km range EV batteries/year .
The site will be the first large EV lithium-ion battery factory in Europe.
Here an alternative approach to pumped hydro storage: sending a train with heavy concrete load up and down a hill. Once pushed to the hill top, energy can be won back via regenerative braking. Round trip efficiency 80%. Weight individual train: 300 ton. Planned track in a desert in Nevada will have a length of 9.2 km with an elevation of 640 m. Optimal slope: 7.2%.
[interestingengineering.com] – Concrete Gravity Trains May Solve Storage Problem
The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer Vestas wants to add storage facilities to its wind farms, hence the new relationship with battery manufacturer Tesla. With an ever increasing installed base of wind power, with a supply of electricity that is inherently variable, storage is becoming increasingly important.
Tesla wants to expands its customer base and move beyond car batteries and home powerwalls.
Prof Goodenough is no quitter
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m Ninety-four?
(Free after The Beatles)
Prof. Goodenough (94) doesn’t know when to stop. And why should he? Where mere mortals usually “live up” to this label at 94, prof Goodenough still soldiers on and has announced a battery breakthrough that could defeat the lithium-ion battery, nota bene his own brainchild.
His team has developed an all-solid-state battery cell and the expectation is that this could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries with three times higher energy density per unit of volume compared to lithium-ion, to be applied in mobile gadgets, e-vehicles as well as in utility-size electricity storage.
[news.utexas.edu] – Introduction of New Technology for Fast-Charging, Noncombustible Batteries
[pubs.rsc.org] – Alternative strategy for a safe rechargeable battery
[wikipedia.org] – John B. Goodenough
[wikipedia.org] – Glass battery
Lithium-Ion batteries could be far more efficient, were it not that they need to be “sabotaged” on purpose, by “diluting” the cathode with graphene in order to prevent the growth of stalactite-like structures called dendrites on the cathode surface, see picture. Dendrites eventually cause the battery to fail, so this outgrowth needs to be prevented with comes at the cost of storage capacity up to a factor of 10.
Researchers at Drexel University, Tsinghua University in Beijing and Hauzhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China have developed an approach to eliminate the need for graphene by working with nanosized diamonds added to the electrolyte inside the battery. This suppresses dendrite growth at least during the first 100 charge-discharge cycles.
Commercial applications are probably several years away.
[nature.com] – Nanodiamonds suppress the growth of lithium
[drexel.edu] – Recipe for Safer Batteries — Just Add Diamonds
[cleantechnica.com] – Potential Lithium-Ion Battery Breakthrough
[newscenter.lbl.gov] – Roots of the Lithium Battery Problem… Dendrites
[phys.org] – Technique to suppress dendrite growth in lithium metal batteries
[electronicproducts.com] – ..dendrites… why do they cause fires in lithium batteries?
Amadeus is a EU project that investigates the potential to store large amounts of energy in high-temperature molten materials, like silicon and boron.
1414 °C is the melting point of silicon. A company in Adelaide, Australia, has named itself 1414 Degrees and claims to have achieved a breakthrough in energy storage by bringing down storage cost per kWh with a factor of 10 compared with lithium-ion. Based on the latent heat in molten silicon. Energy is fed to containers with silicon in order to melt it. Due to the high latent heat capacity of silicon, much energy is stored during the phase change from solid to fluid silicon. A cube with a rib of 70 cm is said to be able to store 500 kWh. Silicon has a density of 2.33 ton/m3. One tone or 429 liter silicon would suffice to power 28 homes for a day. That would amount to 36 times the capacity of a 14-kWh Tesla Powerwall-2 lithium-ion battery. The company however doesn’t target individual households and doesn’t aim to compete with batteries but instead is aiming at “district heating, major industry, electricity producers and suburb-scale residential developments”. At a large scale the claim is that 1 MWh can be stored at the cost of $70,- or 7 cent/kWh. The number of charge/discharge cycles is said to be virtually unlimited.
[amadeus-project.eu] – EU Amadeus project
[puretemp.com] – Extremely high-temperature TES prototype development in Europe
[wikipedia.org] – Thermionic emission
[aip.scitation.org] – Hybrid thermionic-photovoltaic converter
[ec.europa.eu] – What is Horizon 2020?
[cordis.europa.eu] – Next GenerAtion MateriAls and Solid State DevicEs for Ultra High Temperature Energy Storage and Conversion
[renewableenergyworld.com] – Europe to Lead Research Project for Energy Storage in Molten Silicon
[upm.es] – Innovative molten silicon-based energy storage system
[1414degrees.com.au] – Official site
[theengineer.co.uk] – Molten silicon used for thermal energy storage
[wikipedia.org] – Latent heat
[renewableenergyworld.com] – Silicon Energy Storage Technology Scales Up for Commercial Production
[greentechmedia.com] – Startup Says Molten Silicon Will Make Lithium-Ion Storage ‘Uneconomic.’
[nextbigfuture.com] – Molten Silicon thermal energy storage system has higher energy density and ten times lower cost than lithium ion batteries for utility storage
The German city of Mainz is situated in the Bundesland (province) Rhineland-Palatinate, which has the ambition of eliminating fossil fuel from electricity production completely by 2030. For that purpose a storage solution for regenerative energy needs to be found. Mainz has built a facility based on electrolysis of water, producing hydrogen and oxygen. Their Siemens Silyzer 200 PEM electrolysis system operates with a conversion efficiency of 65-70%.
[energiepark-mainz.de] – Energiepark Mainz, official site
[fch.europa.eu] – Energy Park Mainz A Project for the Industry
[electricvehiclesresearch.com] – Mainz claim to have the world’s largest green hydrogen plant
[industry.siemens.com] – SILYZER 200 (PEM electrolysis system)
[h2-international.com] – Electrolyzer Manufacturers Stake Their Claims
Here an interview with Dr Gregor Czisch, a consultant specializing in energy supply at the firm Transnational Renewables Consulting. Dr. Czisch likes to think big. His area of expertise and passion is to design a big picture for renewable energy. On a continental scale no less. The largest hindrance of large scale implementation of renewable energy is its intermittent character: no solar energy at night or during periods of cloudy skies and rain or several days of no wind worth mentioning. The problem is not so much producing large amounts of kWh’s in a renewable fashion, the problem is to make supply meet demand. Although there is still much room for further improvement of wind and solar energy production, in essence we have reached a mature state of technology already. The bottleneck currently is storage.
To make a long story short: according to Dr. Czisch a major contribution to breaking down hurdles standing in the way of a 100% renewable energy future would be to strive for a “super grid” on o continental scale. Both in Europe and America. The greatest obstacle in realizing that aim is of a political nature, not technical.
Dr. Czisch has made mathematical models for both Europe and the United States that show that the larger the integrated area of renewable energy generation is, the lesser intermittency will be a problem.
[germaninnovation.org] – Talking about the Super Grid
[deepresource] – The Enormous Energy Potential of the North Sea
[isesco.org.ma] – Supergrids for Balancing Variable Renewables
[solarwerkstatt.org] – Vollversorgung aus erneuerbaren Energien
[de.wikipedia.org] – Gregor Czisch
[amazon.com] – Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply: CostOptimised Variations on Supplying Europe and its Neighbours with Electricity from Renewable Energies
Bill Joy, one of the main driving forces behind BSD Unix, Sun Microsystems and the vi editor has unveiled yesterday a…
solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes. “What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday.
But it is very early day…
The Ionic Materials investor envisions three ultimate applications for the polymer technology: consumer electronics, automotive and the power grid. But Joy acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time. It has yet to be commercialized, and factories are needed to manufacture it. It could be ready for wider use within five years, he said.
The real innovator is a startup company Ionic Materials, in Woburn, Mass. The claimed breakthrough is that the company succeeded in making alkaline batteries rechargeable. According to spokesman Mike Zimmerman, the alkaline batteries would be heavier than the lithium ones, but that would be more than compensated with lower cost and higher energy density. Additionally there are environmental advantages in replacing cobalt with relatively abundant manganese and zinc. Zinc could eventually even be replaced by aluminium, reducing the battery weight below the lithium-based ones.
[bloomberg.com] – Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion
[nytimes.com] – A Better, Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You
[wikipedia.org] – Alkaline battery
[wikipedia.org] – Lithium-ion battery
[livemint.com] – Tech guru Bill Joy unveils battery to challenge lithium-ion
[wikipedia.org] – Bill Joy
[wired.com] – Bill Joy, Why the future doesn’t need us
[wikipedia.org] – Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us
Pressured air as a storage medium.
Although this is an English language blog, there are so many developments in Germany regarding all aspects related to renewable energy, that it would be a shame to ignore these. In this post you will find a number of German language videos related to energy storage.