Recent experiments have pushed battery technology, especially the possibilities for large grid-scale batteries, dramatically forward.
Grid-scale energy storage is a critical bottleneck for the development of a no-carbon-emissions technologies. Wind power, for example, is of limited use if it can be employed only in a certain locality when the wind is blowing there. But if it can help recharge a storage system large enough to contribute to a broad electricity grid, it becomes a much more important contributor to the broader picture.
The batteries currently used to store wind power for the grid level are known as “molten sodium” batteries, or sodium-sulfur. But they have practical difficulties, so this technology remains a bottleneck.
Sodium-sulfur batteries operate only if they are hot. They must be heated to a temperature between 520 and 660 degrees Fahrenheit. But Sandia National Laboratories is attempting to develop models that will work at much lower temps, as low as 230 F.
Strange New Worlds:
The lead researcher on the project, Leo Small, has explained, “There’s a whole cascading cost savings that comes along with lowering the battery temperature. You can use less expensive materials. The batteries need less insulation and the wiring that connects the batteries can be a lot thinner.”
The new battery design that can accomplish exactly this cascading cost savings has now been published in the July 21, 2021 issue of Cell Reports Physical Science.