New batteries could be cost-effective solution for energy storage

There is a new battery being developed at MIT that could revolutionize the energy storage market, based on flow battery technologies.

"The device stores and releases energy in a device that relies on a phenomenon called laminar flow: Two liquids are pumped through a channel, undergoing electrochemical reactions between two electrodes to store or release energy. Under the right conditions, the solutions stream through in parallel, with very little mixing. The flow naturally separates the liquids, without requiring a costly membrane."

The chemicals used in the battery are inexpensive, but in this type of battery, the membrane that is normally present is what previously drove up the price of the batteries, and limited the batteries abilities.

The reactants used are liquid bromine and hydrogen fuel, which is cheap, but also has had issues with breaking down the membrane in other flow batteries. By taking out the membrane they were able to speed up energy storage and extend the life of the battery.

“Here, we have a system where performance is just as good as previous systems, and now we don’t have to worry about issues of the membrane,” says Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering. “This is something that can be a quantum leap in energy-storage technology.”

Not only are these batteries able to efficiently produce energy, they can also be reversed and store energy, something not done with membrane-less batteries. The next step with this technology is performing practical tests of the batteries. The MIT researchers are predicting that these batteries will enable energy storage and production at as little as $100/kWh.

Read more at Tree Hugger.