New Iron-Based Battery for Cheap Power StorageCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: August 23, 2012 06:18AM
During the energy crisis of the 1970s many different energy technologies were being developed including an air-breathing iron-based battery. This battery design releases energy by oxidizing the iron plates with oxygen in the air (similar to rusting) but had a serious flaw at the time. As much as half of the energy was lost to hydrolysis taking place elsewhere in the battery, but now researchers at the University of Southern California have a new design that cuts that loss down to just 4%.
The researchers added some bismuth sulfide to the battery as bismuth disrupts the hydrolysis process. Lead or mercury would have had a similar effect, but the researchers decided to use this material because it is more environmentally friendly.
As iron is relatively cheap compared to other materials, like lithium, the researchers hope this design can be employed in power grids to stabilize the output of renewable energy sources. Already the Federal and California governments have contacted the researchers about this battery, in the hopes of bringing it to the grid.