New Water-Based Battery Could Help Store Solar and Wind Energy
A group of researchers at Stanford University have developed a new type of battery using water and salt that they hope could be used to store energy produced from wind and solar farms, increasing the effectiveness of renewable energy sources.
The two fastest-growing forms of energy generation in the world today are wind and solar, and both have the same fundamental limitation. They’re subject to the weather, and routinely go for hours or days without generating any electricity at all. Energy companies relying on these generation methods need some sort of backup while their solar farms and wind turbines are offline.
There aren’t too many options for these energy companies, and most simply turn to fossil fuels like coal or natural gas which significantly undercuts the benefits of green energy in the first place. An alternate solution—and one being trialed in places like Australia—is battery storage, so that excess power produced from renewable energy can be saved for later.
But batteries have their own problems. Most utility-scale battery systems are expensive to build, and there’s a limit to how long they last. Typically, rechargeable batteries have a lifetime of around a decade before they can no longer effectively hold a charge and need to be replaced.
The new battery developed by researchers at Stanford solves these problems with a cheap, long-lasting battery perfect for utility-scale energy storage. The battery is a manganese-hydrogen battery, and it’s made by dissolving manganese sulfate, a common salt, in water.