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Startup Devises Liquid Metal Batteries for the Electricity Grid
2/26/2013

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)
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)

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Elizabeth M
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Re: Risk Minerals
Elizabeth M   3/4/2013 4:57:12 AM
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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.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Risk Minerals
Cabe Atwell   3/1/2013 7:03:05 PM
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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.

C

Elizabeth M
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Re: Risk Minerals
Elizabeth M   2/28/2013 4:11:06 AM
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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.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Liquid Metal?
Elizabeth M   2/28/2013 3:56:26 AM
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Yes, it does remain heated, but I think the battery has its own process of self heating through its charging and discharging. Still, I can see how the temperature might be a concern.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Liquid Metal?
William K.   2/27/2013 10:28:10 PM
While the chemistry may be very effective, keeping that much material that hot is going to require a bit of heating power and some very good insulation. So the practical utilization of the concept is a real challenge. Possibly use an atomic reactor to keep it hot, but what effect would the intense radiation have on the system? In summary, "it works in theory, but will it ever be practical." Keeping metals melted is a hot task indeed.

Greg M. Jung
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Platinum
Re: Risk Minerals
Greg M. Jung   2/27/2013 7:54:15 PM
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Good strategy.  I'm glad that other minerals (that are be more available) could also produce results with this technology.

Charles Murray
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Re: Liquid Metal?
Charles Murray   2/27/2013 7:42:26 PM
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You're right on the money, ttemple. I think Ambri specifies 400-700 degrees C.

ttemple
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Liquid Metal?
ttemple   2/27/2013 12:13:44 PM
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If I'm reading this correctly, the entire contents of the battery is in a liquid state.  To liquify antimony and magnesium requires approximately 1200 degrees F.  So, this battery is at that temperature to function?

Hey, what's in that 40' trailer over there?  Oh, just 80,000 lbs of liquified metal.  Is that a problem?

 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Exciting if its potential can be realized
Elizabeth M   2/27/2013 5:08:30 AM
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I didn't know Gates was an investor, Chuck! Well, it sounds like something he would go for...but I don't know if he's still contributing. Anyone else know? I'll look it up online and see...

Elizabeth M
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Re: Exciting if its potential can be realized
Elizabeth M   2/27/2013 4:41:10 AM
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Great, thanks for the link, Chuck. Sadoway seems like a bit of a rock star...definitely a brilliant mind and this would be great if it really lived up to the potential, as I said before. I just think it's cool there are some big minds trying to tackle these problems, and he seems very passionate about it.

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