Renewable energy storage on brink of a revolution

Popular Science reports, May 2015: The next step for renewable energy is to figure out how to store all the power we create. Harvard researchers have used a molecule nearly identical to one in rhubarb to make a battery that can store more energy­ — for less money — than solid-state and traditional flow batteries.

“We have something that could change the way we deal with electricity,” says Harvard engineer Michael Aziz. By 2017, they hope to release a commercial version big enough to hold a day’s worth of energy from a typical three-kilowatt home rooftop solar array.

Michael Aziz

Michael Aziz

Many existing flow batteries use expensive rare earth metals like vanadium. This new battery is modelled on photosynthesis and uses quinones, small molecules that store energy in plants and animals. They cause a beautiful colour change from yellow to red-brown during charging, and are cheap and naturally abundant. Aziz hopes one day to store elec­tricity from solar farms — without depending on scarce, costly materials.

This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of Popular Science as part of our “New Faces Of Energy” feature.

Source: Popular Science, June 2015. For further details, see  www.popsci.com/michael-aziz-makes-battery-rhubarb-sort


Update:
For an update on this developments, see www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/10/holy-grail-of-energy-policy-in-sight-as-battery-technology-smash


Marinet observes:
The implications of this technology for the oceans is immense. The oceans are currently deteriorating physically at an alarming rate due to acidification and temperature warming, all due to excessive greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere.

Unless this is halted and reversed soon, the consequences will likey be planet-changing.

Therefore a new technology which makes zero carbon renewable energy viable as a 100% substitution for fossil fuels (and nuclear power) is essential. The answer may lie with the technology described above.


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