Startup Devises Liquid Metal Batteries for the Electricity Grid
David Bradwell (left) and Donald Sadoway are co-founders of Ambri, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup that is developing a liquid-based battery they hope will be the foundation for the next-generation electricity grid. (Source: MIT)
Exactly. Major problem there...evaporation and other water retention problems. Other issues come in the loss of power through the inefficient pumps and other electrical mechanisms. Not to mention the reconversion of the water back to electricity through turbines.
The battery cuts out a lot of the problems of other systems, cuts right to the chase, electrical power ready to go.
When you say "water displacement," Cabe, are you referring to pumped hydro? Pumped hydro -- pumping water up to a higher spot and then using it to spin a generator -- is still the most common form of grid storage by far, I believe.
I know many are making batteries for storage already, but as I said, cost is high. Especially compared to old methods like water displacement. I also read about freezing, momentum, and weight storage of energy. All of which seemed silly.
Perhaps when capacitors reach higher density of surface area, they could be used.
Yes, the known reserves of Antimony (Sb) are less than 2M tonnes. That may sound like a lot but antimony, like lead, is very heavy so those "40 foot containers" might contain as much 20 tonnes each. Worse yet, the huge percentage of antimony reserves are in China - which has recently shown a reluctance to expolit their rare-earths further than 2010 levels.
Yes, Cabe, I know cost effectiveness is part of the design plan of Ambri, but I guess it will remain to be seen until the batteries start shipping and are being used. And you're right, multimillion-dollar batteries would be a little pricey and probably not worth the investment. There are interesting innovations being made in lithium-ion batteries, as well, though, so you never know what designers may come up with.
Regulation and green energy is sure to benefit from the "giant battery" approach. Let's hope the cost doesn't reflect size. A lithium-ion battery that size would do the job too, but the cost would be in the multi-millions.
Yes, Greg, it's also good that the chemistry was able to be modified to meet the availability of minerals for the battery. But I suppose that is something that the inventors had to consider in the design. Often what works when something is first developed doesn't always work well for mass production.
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