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Una batería hecha de sal de mesa y agua: ¿la revolución del almacenamiento de energía?
Mauro Mereu, 31-May-2023
© Innovation Origins
Sostenibilidad: La tecnología de batería de AQUABATTERY puede almacenar energía de forma segura utilizando agua y sal de mesa. Visitamos la inauguración de su nueva planta de producción.
Un tanque, gran cantidad de agua y sal de mesa. Estos no son solo los ingredientes necesarios de una comida para todo el vecindario. Se usan en una batería segura y eficiente que almacena energía de los paneles solares. Sin embargo, no lo haga por si mismo: esta empresa holandesa sabe hacerlo mejor.
Fundada en 2014, AQUABATTERY desarrolló una batería que puede almacenar energía renovable en agua salada. De esta manera, el almacenamiento de energía se vuelve seguro (los iones de litio pueden quemarse cuando se sobrecalientan) mediante el uso de materiales baratos, sostenibles y no escasos, como la sal de mesa y el agua. Estas ventajas garantizan el almacenamiento a largo plazo y a gran escala de energía sostenible.
La empresa inauguró sus instalaciones en Alphen aan de Rhijn (Países Bajos) para producir los primeros módulos y suministrar las primeras baterías. AQUABATTERY, calificada como “una de las tecnologías e innovaciones revolucionarias de Europa” por el Consejo Europeo de Innovación, está trabajando para aumentar la escala del sistema. Han desarrollado un módulo de potencia de diez kW y quieren ampliarlo a 100 y 300 kW en los próximos años.
“Estoy muy feliz de haber llegado a esto”, dice con orgullo Jiajun Cen, director ejecutivo de la empresa. “Aunque nuestra idea es sencilla, la tecnología detrás de ella es bastante complicada. Pero nos aseguramos de que funcione y sea económicamente asequible. Estos fueron los principales desafíos para nosotros”.
Imitando células vivas
La batería estacionaria consta de dos unidades: un módulo de potencia con pilas de membranas y una unidad de almacenamiento de tanques de agua. Durante el proceso de carga, el agua salada fluye a través de membranas, donde se separa en ácido y base, cada cual terminando en un tanque separado. Cuando la batería se descarga, las dos corrientes se combinan y vuelven a atravesar la membrana, generando electricidad renovable.
“Un gradiente de sal, la energía creada por la diferencia en la concentración de sal en dos líquidos, crea una diferencia en el potencial energético”, explica Emil Goosen, fundador de AQUABATTERY. Las pilas de membranas se parecen a las membranas celulares biológicas. “El proceso imita la transferencia activa de sal, donde el agua y la sal están en equilibrio. Después de hacer ejercicio o beber mucho, se debe restablecer ese equilibrio y algunas células eliminan ciertos iones de sal del torrente sanguíneo”, explica.
Además, la solución es escalable, por lo que es posible almacenar energía durante mucho tiempo, entre ocho y 100 horas. “Al aumentar el tamaño de los embalses y el volumen de agua aumenta el tiempo de almacenamiento”, enfatiza Goosen. “Es por eso que lo hacemos flexible para cada aplicación y duración de almacenamiento necesaria, al combinar nuestro módulo de energía con depósitos de agua de diferentes tamaños”, agrega Cen.
Los dos fundadores durante la ceremonia de apertura, Jiajun Cen a la izquierda y Emil Goosen a la derecha. – © Innovation Origins
Baterías de flujo
La batería de agua y sal de mesa se incluye en la categoría de baterías eléctricas. Una batería de flujo es una batería en la que dos líquidos, separados por una membrana, experimentan reacciones electroquímicas. El sistema de AQUABATTERY consta de pilas de membranas colocadas en un contenedor de envío de 12 metros, conectadas por tuberías a los depósitos de agua. Por tanto, es muy adecuado para aplicaciones estacionarias, como el almacenamiento del exceso de energía de los parques solares o eólicos.
“En los planes para Horizon Europe, uno de los principales programas de financiación de la UE para la investigación y la innovación, las baterías de litio se mencionaron cientos de veces, mientras que las baterías de flujo se mencionaron tal vez dos veces”, dice Kees van de Kerk. Es el presidente de Flow Batteries Europe. Esta asociación reúne a diferentes partes interesadas de la UE que han hecho campaña en los últimos años para promover y resaltar el potencial de esta tecnología.
Las baterías de flujo son óptimas para dos tipos de uso. “Las aplicaciones de ciclo alto (se pueden usar durante miles de ciclos sin degradación del rendimiento) y las aplicaciones de almacenamiento prolongado son las dos más importantes. Además, el almacenamiento estacionario se está volviendo cada vez más importante y necesitamos financiación para iniciar proyectos de ampliación de la tecnología”, dice.
Según Goosen, están llegando "señales positivas" de la UE sobre las estrategias energéticas. “Veo que la UE está trabajando con muchas partes diferentes para agregar más flexibilidad a un sistema energético que funciona con energía renovable”.
Al hacer realidad la transición, Cen enfatiza la "motivación intrínseca" de su equipo y su compromiso con la sustentabilidad. “Lo que más me gusta de su concepto es el medio de almacenamiento. La mayoría de las baterías de flujo usan vanadio, un metal, porque es estable, pero crear un sistema de almacenamiento solo con sal y agua es genial”, dice Van de Kerk.
Arriba, la primera unidad de Aquabattery, abajo, el área de producción. Innovation Origins
AQUABATTERY ha estado trabajando durante diez años. Desde los primeros experimentos en una caja de garaje, se ha dedicado innumerables horas de investigación y experimentación a la idea. También hay varios prototipos en el área de producción que hacen realizable la idea.
El primer concepto fue la carga y descarga con agua dulce y salada. Luego, la empresa cambió a la solución basada en ácido actual para mejorar el rendimiento y comenzó a experimentar con diferentes pilas de membranas. En 2017, AQUABATTERY estableció su primer proyecto piloto en Green Village of Delft University of Technology. Tres años más tarde, la batería viajó a la isla de Pantelleria, Italia, y se probó en una central eléctrica local.
Esta es una tecnología radicalmente mejorada, con potencia y densidad de energía multiplicada por diez. El año pasado, el sistema fue probado en la planta de tratamiento de aguas residuales de la ciudad holandesa de Gorinchem, que utiliza electricidad renovable autogenerada a partir de un parque solar.
Para los fundadores de AQUABATTERY, lo mejor está por venir. Impulsados por la expansión de las energías renovables, pronostican que su producto se ofrecerá a diferentes usuarios. “Inicialmente, apuntamos a aplicaciones industriales y comerciales. Las empresas deberán tener paneles solares, por lo que necesitarán almacenamiento de energía a largo plazo para administrar de manera eficiente la producción y el consumo de electricidad. En el futuro, queremos instalar nuestras baterías en parques solares y eólicos como amortiguador”, concluye Cen.
https://innovationorigins.com/nl/een-ba ... gieopslag/
David Szondy, June 12, 2023
Comparison of the new electrolyte (blue) with the old (gray) ORNL
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has come up with a small tweak that could have big consequences. By making a small change to how a type of solid-state battery is made, the scientists managed to eliminate defects in the electrolyte film, opening the way to safer and more efficient batteries.
Solid-state batteries have a lot of promise. Unlike current lithium-ion batteries, solid-state ones don't contain flammable liquids, which are a major drawback as illustrated by stories of laptops and electric cars bursting into flames. Solid-state batteries are also less toxic, have higher energy densities, charge faster, and survive more recharge cycles without degenerating.
The problem is that manufacturing such batteries is difficult and expensive compared to liquid batteries, with one major challenge being the defects in the electrolyte films that are key to the batteries. Tiny bubbles formed in the film prevent ions from moving between the electrodes, slowing down charging and general operations.
One electrolyte film is made from antiperovskite (Li2OHCl), where pellets of the material are pressed together into sheets. These often produce undesirable defects that reduce efficiency.
To overcome this, the Oak Ridge team added the step of heating the press and then letting the electrolyte cool under pressure. The result was a film free from bubbles and higher in surface nitrogen enrichment that was also almost 1,000 times more conductive, showed a close to 50% improvement in the critical current density, and better lithiophilicity, which is a key factor in solid-state battery stability.
According to the researchers, the new tweak not only improves performance, it also opens the door to being able to process solid electrolytes on an industrial scale that are more reliable because engineers will have more control over the process.
"It’s the same material – you’re just changing how you make it, while improving the battery performance on a number of fronts," said lead researcher Marm Dixit.
The research was published in the ACS Energy Letters.
https://newatlas.com/technology/simple- ... batteries/
By Robert Lea, SPACE.com on June 13, 2023
The MAPLE experiment was able to wirelessly transfer collected solar power to receivers in space and direct energy to Earth
An image of the interior of MAPLE, the instrument aboard the Space Solar Power Demonstrator that achieved the wireless transmission of energy through space. Credit: Caltech
A space solar power prototype has demonstrated its ability to wirelessly beam power through space and direct a detectable amount of energy toward Earth for the first time. The experiment proves the viability of tapping into a near-limitless supply of power in the form of energy from the sun from space.
Because solar energy in space isn’t subject to factors like day and night, obscuration by clouds, or weather on Earth, it is always available. In fact, it is estimated that space-based harvesters could potentially yield eight times more power than solar panels at any location on the surface of the globe.
The wireless power transfer was achieved by the Microwave Array for Power-transfer Low-orbit Experiment (MAPLE), an array of flexible and lightweight microwave power transmitters, which is one of the three instruments carried by the Space Solar Power Demonstrator (SSPD-1).
SSPD-1 was launched in January 2023 as part of the California Institute of Technology's (Caltech) Space Solar Power Project (SSPP), the primary goal of which is to harvest solar power in space and then transmit it to the surface of Earth.
“Through the experiments we have run so far, we received confirmation that MAPLE can transmit power successfully to receivers in space,” Co-Director of the Space-Based Solar Power Project, Dr. Ali Hajimiri, said in a statement. “We have also been able to program the array to direct its energy toward Earth, which we detected here at Caltech. We had, of course, tested it on Earth, but now we know that it can survive the trip to space and operate there.”
MAPLE demonstrated the transmission of energy wirelessly through space by sending energy from a transmitter to two separate receiver arrays around a foot away, where it was transformed into electricity. This was used to light up a pair of LEDs.
The instrument then beamed energy from a tiny window installed in the unit to the roof of Gordon and Betty Moore Laboratory of Engineering on Caltech’s campus in Pasadena.
Because MAPLE is not sealed, the experiment also demonstrated its capability to function in the harsh environment of space while subject to large swings in temperature and exposure to solar radiation. The conditions experienced by this prototype will soon be felt by large-scale SSPP units.
“To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever demonstrated wireless energy transfer in space, even with expensive rigid structures,” Hajimiri added. “We are doing it with flexible, lightweight structures and with our own integrated circuits. This is a first!”
In a video from Caltech, Hajimiri, who led the Caltech that developed MAPLE, explained how the wireless transmission of energy through space is based on a quantum phenomenon called “interference.”
Interference arises due to the wave-like nature of light. When two light waves overlap, if they are in phase, the waves align, and the peaks of the waves meet and create a greater peak with a height that is the sum of the two original peaks. This is called constructive interference.
If, however, the waves of light are out of phase and overlap while misaligned, a peak may meet a trough in the wave, and both are canceled out, a process known as destructive interference.
“If you have multiple sources that are operating in concert, in the same phase, you can actually direct energy in one direction so all of them will only add in one direction and will cancel each other out in all other directions,” Hajimiri said. “The same way that a magnifying glass can focus light into a small point, you can actually control the timing of this in such a way that you can focus all of that energy in a smaller area than the area that you started with.”
By precisely controlling the timing of this process, the direction of the energy can be adjusted very rapidly on a scale of nanoseconds, and power can be redirected to space-based receivers or even receivers here on Earth. Together this allows the energy to be directed to the desired location and nowhere else, and all this can be done without the need for any moving mechanical parts.
Hajimiri and his team are now assessing the performance of the individual units that comprise MAPLE. a painstaking process that will take as long as six months to complete. This will allow them to provide feedback that will guide the development of fully realized versions of the system in the future.
It is planned that SSPP will eventually consist of a constellation of modular spacecraft collecting sunlight, transforming it into electricity, and turning this into microwaves that are then beamed over vast distances, including back to Earth, where energy is needed. This could include regions of the globe currently poorly served by existing energy infrastructure.
“In the same way that the internet democratized access to information, we hope that wireless energy transfer democratizes access to energy,” Hajimiri concluded. “No energy transmission infrastructure will be needed on the ground to receive this power. That means we can send energy to remote regions and areas devastated by war or natural disaster.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Robert Lea is a science journalist in the U.K. whose articles have been published in Physics World, New Scientist, Astronomy Magazine, All About Space, Newsweek and ZME Science. He also writes about science communication for Elsevier and the European Journal of Physics. Rob holds a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy from the U.K.'s Open University. Follow him on Twitter @sciencef1rst.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... time-ever/
Loz Blain, June 23, 2023
Direct Lithium Extraction promises more lithium, cheaper, faster and using vastly less land than traditional brine evaporation processes. Volt's system is particularly good with low-concentration brine
Canadian company Volt Lithium has developed and pilot-tested a new low-cost lithium extraction method to pull this critical battery metal out of low-concentration brines. Now it plans to turn old oil fields into lithium production operations.
As the global transition to electric vehicles gathers momentum, and power grids worldwide turn to huge banks of batteries to balance demand against the intermittent supply of renewables, the world is going to need unprecedented amounts of lithium to fuel its insatiable hunger for batteries.
We've written before that many people are expecting a lithium squeeze in the coming decade; it takes around 13 years to start up a new mining operation, for example, and the International Energy Agency projects that existing mines and brine projects, plus those currently under construction, are only going to deliver about half of the projected demand.
Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) offers a "potentially revolutionary" way to quickly and cheaply boost production from brine "much like shale did for oil," according to a Goldman Sachs report from April.
The typical way to extract lithium from salty groundwater brine is to pump it up from underground, then sit it in gigantic ponds on the surface. Over the course of a year or more, the Sun gently evaporates the water away until the lithium concentration can be precipitated out with chemical reagents and processed into lithium carbonate or hydroxide for sale. Operating this way, you can extract 40-60% of the lithium in your brine at a cost between US$3,300 and US$4,900 per metric ton of lithium carbonate equivalent.
The DLE process is much faster, taking a matter of hours instead of more than a year. It can pull up to twice as much lithium out of a given brine as an evaporative process, potentially doubling the output of a given brine operation. It uses about 95% less land, and is economically viable with considerably lower lithium concentrations in the brine. And it costs less per ton of lithium carbonate equivalent than evaporation.
Essentially, the DLE process involves adding a highly selective absorbent molecule to the brine, which captures the lithium and quickly separates it from the water, rejecting impurities in the process.
Calgary's Volt Lithium is one of many companies pushing forth on this potentially game-changing technology. Volt announced earlier this year that its pilot program had managed to extract 90% of the lithium from concentrations as low as 34 mg/liter, and a stellar 97% from concentrations of 120 mg/liter.
The latter figure is significant, as that's the concentration of lithium in the brine under the company's 430,000 acres of land at Rainbow Lake, Alberta. This is an old, depleted oil field with more than 1,300 well bores pre-drilled on the site for easy access to the brine. Volt estimates there's about 4.9 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent there for the plundering, and that it can do so for around US$3,000 per metric ton, pumping out about 20,000 tons a year.
"This technological discovery opens up multiple oilfield reservoirs across North America that can now offer commercial lithium extraction using Volt's proprietary DLE process," reads a company press release. The release also notes that relatively simple process improvements like optimizing the usage of reagent should reduce costs further. The company is moving to establish its first permanent pilot plant.
Brine makes up around two thirds of global lithium resources, according to Goldman Sachs, but only about 40% of current production. If DLE technologies are rolled out through 20-40% of the brine operations in Latin America, raising their yields from ~50% to ~80% conservatively speaking, then by 2028, Goldman Sachs estimates that would put 70-140,000 tons more lithium onto the market, boosting the global raw supply by around 8%.
That's not enough to meet the expected demand in 2030, but it also doesn't take into account the new oilfield extraction opportunities across North America, Asia and Europe that emerging technologies like Volt's are unlocking.
Source: Volt Lithium (NB! archivo PDF).
https://newatlas.com/energy/volt-low-co ... xtraction/
Loz Blain, July 09, 2023
These iron-air "rust batteries" are big and slow, but they're safe and eco-friendly, and store energy at a tenth the cost of lithiumForm Energy
Gates- and Bezos-backed startup Form Energy is one of the most exciting companies in the grid-level renewable energy storage space, with a multi-day iron-air battery system just 10% the cost of lithium. A 10-MW/1-GWh demo system has now been approved.
For large electrical grids to move toward 100% renewable energy, grid operators need clever, affordable, practical and eco-friendly ways to store up energy that's generated at inconvenient times, and then release it when demand is outstripping supply.
This needs to happen on different timescales; some of this grid smoothing needs to happen on a daily basis, and that's an area where lithium "big battery" projects are already doing a great job. But lithium is less suited to longer-duration storage; it doesn't like staying fully charged for days or months at a time, so other, slower, bulk storage options are being developed to buffer energy grids against multi-day bad weather spells and seasonal lulls in renewable generation.
Multi-day lulls in solar generation capacity are where batteries like Form's will shine Form Energy
Form Energy is working in the multi-day space, commercializing a relatively simple, modular battery solution based around the rust cycle of iron. Charging these washing-machine-sized battery modules up uses electricity to convert rust, or iron oxide, into metallic iron, and releases oxygen as a by-product. Discharging the batteries requires oxygen to be put back into the system, and turns the metallic iron to rust, releasing energy in the process.
Obviously, this reaction is slower than the instant, high-power discharge of a lithium battery. But it's quicker than you might think; a full discharge cycle takes about 100 hours, or a little over four days. That's right about the sweet spot for the kind of multi-day batteries cities will need to buffer against bad weather. Well, in some places. Sorry, London.
The advantages of an iron-air battery are simple and clear. Direct reduced iron is the cheapest form of iron available, and was previously mainly used in steelmaking. It's extremely abundant, and totally safe. So are water and air, the other two main ingredients.
The batteries charge and discharge using iron's rust cycle Form Energy
These cells might take up some volume – you need about an acre (0.4 ha) of land for 3 MW of power generation, but they last for ages, and they're totally recyclable; you can pull the iron out again and easily sell it on. The result is a Levelized Cost of Storage (LCoS) that comes in at about 10% of a lithium big battery array per kilowatt-hour stored and released.
After announcing a US$760 million manufacturing plant in West Virginia earlier this year, Form Energy has now announced an impressive demonstration project: a 10-megawatt/1-gigawatt-hour system to be built on 5 acres (2 ha) of land near the Sherburne County Generating Station in Becker, Minnesota.
This location puts it conveniently close to Sherco Solar, one of the largest solar generating sites under development in the USA, with a total capacity of 710 MW when it's complete. The battery will be built on a site owned by Xcel Energy, a power company that operates several coal-fired plants, but that's already moved more than half its generating capacity to renewable sources.
Test and pilot manufacturing facilities are already in place. Ground was broken on a US$750 million large-scale manufacturing facility in West Virginia in May this year Form Energy
This demonstration battery is a pilot for a program in which Xcel will begin using iron-air batteries to replace its coal-fired power plants, in a way that makes use of existing transmission infrastructure, but that should also keep energy release costs down to about what local grids are already paying for coal-fired grid-firming electricity.
“Multi-day battery storage has the potential to help us better harness the renewable energy we generate while ensuring the grid remains reliable for our customers,” said Bria Shea, a senior VP at Xcel, in a press release. “We look forward to bringing this system online at our Sherco site and learning more about the role it can play in our larger effort to reach 100% carbon-free electricity.”
Construction is set to begin next year, and the battery is slated to come online in 2025. This won't be Form's first grid-connected project; a smaller 1.5-megawatt system is planned with Great River Energy, also in Minnesota. Learn more in the video below.
Source: Form Energy via Recharge News
By Anne Devineaux, Euronews, 22/06/2023
The Skåne region speeds towards its long-term climate goals with a fossil fuel-free strategy that includes public transport, district heating, cooling and electricity.
In southern Sweden, cities in the Skåne region such as Malmö and Lund have committed themselves to eliminating fossil fuels and reducing CO2 emissions across a number of municipal services.
Thanks to the production of biogas and the use of wind power, polluting fuels such as petrol, oil, coal and natural gas have been minimised as Magnus Lund, a climate strategist from Kristianstad explains: "We have to share good solutions. We need to share them openly in order to solve all the big environmental challenges that we have".
Decarbonising transportation has been a top priority. Among the various initiatives taken, the municipality of Lund has developed a groundbreaking system for business travel.
City employees now have access to a fleet of green vehicles via a booking system. Depending on their needs and the distance to be covered, the platform offers commuters cars running on biogas and electricity, but, more importantly, it offers bicycles.
"The idea of this system is to both optimise the vehicle fleet so that we can use the cars and the bicycles more efficiently and also, to steer people's behaviour towards walking, biking and using public transportation before they choose the car," said Elin Dalaryd, a climate strategist from Lund.
Seven cities in the region are participating in the project. Green energy initiatives in transport, heating and construction have already been taken and the results are there, according to the project coordinator.
"We are now 98% fossil free in our seven municipalities and we have cut greenhouse gas emissions by 73% in seven years so it is a great result,” said Johannes Elamzon, the project manager behind 'fossil fuel-free municipalities in Skåne 2.0'
The project has a total budget of almost €1.6 million euros, half of which is financed by the European cohesion policy. 53,000 municipal employees are involved in the scheme.
Meanwhile, in another initiative, a truck collecting garbage is being used to create biofuel.
The organic waste is processed in a biogas plant in Kristianstad, one of the first in Sweden. The plant has been in operation for more than 20 years and is owned by the municipality.
"We are able to recirculate the energy that you take out. You can use it for buses and cars in the municipality and also the nutrients in the material, we can take out to the fields and then fertilise for new crops” said Tore Sigurdsson, a biogas plant manager for utility company, C4 Energi.
Most of the biogas is used as biofuel. And some is also used for heating. This circular system is particularly suited to the local environment.
"We had a problem with a lot of organic waste because we have a lot of agricultural land and food industries in our municipality. With time, we realised that we can use it as a source of clean energy -- similar to innovations in which we started with a problem and ended with a good solution" added Lund.
https://www.euronews.com/my-europe/2023 ... free-fuels
Loz Blain, July 27, 2023
The experimental prototype of the proton battery RMIT University
RMIT engineers say they've tripled the energy density of cheap, rechargeable, recyclable proton flow batteries, which can now challenge commercially available lithium-ion batteries for capacity with a specific energy density of 245 Wh/kg.
That's as compared to the ~260-odd Wh/kg delivered by the lithium-ion batteries in a current Tesla Model 3 battery pack, but without using any lithium, thus avoiding a forecasted lithium squeeze, as well as geopolitically sensitive dependence on China in the battery supply chain, and all kinds of end-of-life issues.
Essentially, it's a different way of using hydrogen for energy storage. The proton battery works something like a reversible fuel cell, accepting water while charging, splitting out positively-charged hydrogen ions and releasing oxygen.
Inner schematic of the proton battery RMIT University
At this point, most hydrogen systems allow these ions to combine into H2 gas, and then expend energy either compressing it, super-cooling it to liquefy it, or further processing it into ammonia. The proton battery instead stores the hydrogen protons directly and immediately, in holes in a solid, porous activated carbon electrode soaked in a dilute acid. Discharging the battery is a matter of adding oxygen, and energy is released as water is produced.
In their latest paper, the RMIT researchers looked into the fundamentals of how the proton battery worked – mainly on the oxygen-side reactions – in order to formulate and test some ideas around how it might be improved. These ideas, according to the paper, included vacuum drying of the activated carbon powder prior to electrode preparation, in order to remove water in the material, mild heating of the overall cell to 70 °C during operation, and replacement of the oxygen-side gas diffusion layer (GDL) with a much thinner GDL fiber sheet.
The benefits, they say, were enormous, resulting in a proton battery capable of storing almost three times as much energy per weight as their last one – and "more than double the highest electrochemical hydrogen storage using an acidic electrolyte previously reported in the literature." At a density of 882 joules per gram, it roughly equates to 245 Wh/kg, right up there with good commercial lithium batteries currently on the market.
Dr Shahin Heidari (left), Professor John Andrews and Dr Seyed Niya with a demonstration of the proton battery operating two small fans in the RMIT lab RMIT University
So what would be the advantages of a proton battery once it becomes commercially available? Well, it's a very safe and stable way to transport hydrogen, as opposed to high-pressure gas, constantly boiling cryogenic liquid, or highly caustic ammonia. It should last a long time, and be quick to charge.
It'll be relatively cheap, since you don't need lithium or any other exotic metals, and the thing can be made using abundant materials and inexpensive fabrication. It'll also be 100% recyclable.
“Our battery has an energy-per-unit mass already comparable with commercially available lithium-ion batteries, while being much safer and better for the planet in terms of taking less resources out of the ground,” said lead researcher and RMIT Professor John Andrews in a press release.
“Our battery is also potentially capable of very fast charging," he continued. "The main resource used in our proton battery is carbon, which is abundant, available in all countries and cheap compared to the resources needed for other types of rechargeable battery such as lithium, cobalt and vanadium. There are also no end-of-life environmental challenges with a proton battery, since all components and materials can be rejuvenated, reused or recycled.”
Roundtrip efficiency is a definite bugbear for most hydrogen powertrains, where energy is effectively thrown away during electrolysis, compression/cooling, storage and at the fuel cell when converting hydrogen back into electricity. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. "Our proton battery has much lower losses than conventional hydrogen systems, making it directly comparable to lithium-ion batteries in terms of energy efficiency" said Andrews.
He clarifies further in an email: "We're targeting above 75% roundtrip energy efficiency at this stage. Yes, this will be time dependent depending on the rate of self-discharge, but we expect this can be minimised with optimal design. As you will know, this is comparable with lithium ion batteries, and much greater than conventional electrolyser/H2 gas storage/fuel cell systems (<45%)."
Dr Shahin Heidari (left) and Dr Seyed Niya, bemusedly posing for press photos with a multimeter and their prototype RMIT University
There's work to be done yet on the overall system design. "The specific energy based on electrode mass quoted in our paper was 245 Wh/kg," he continues, "but this comes down when the mass of other battery components is factored in, although there are many opportunities for keeping these very light. We also expect to raise this figure by optimising overall cell design and operation."
It looks like more of a battery competitor than a fuel cell competitor, though. In applications like aviation where weight is the ultimate priority, gaseous and liquid hydrogen will still carry several times more energy per kilogram of system weight.
Still, the team is moving to commercialize the proton battery. "We are looking forward to developing this technology further in Melbourne and Italy, in partnership with Eldor Corporation, to produce a prototype battery with a storage capacity that meets the needs of a range of domestic and commercial applications," said Andrews. "The aim of this collaboration is to scale up the system from the watt to the kilowatt and ultimately to the megawatt scale."
The research is available in the Journal of Power Sources. (NB! Por subscripción)
Source: RMIT University
Editor's note: This story was revised on Friday 28th July, to add in some extra comments from Professor Andrews.
https://newatlas.com/energy/rmit-proton ... y-density/
Loz Blain, July 31, 2023
Cement and water, with a small amount of carbon black mixed in, self-assembles into fractal branches of conductive electrodes, turning concrete into an energy-storing supercapacitor MIT
MIT researchers have discovered that when you mix cement and carbon black with water, the resulting concrete self-assembles into an energy-storing supercapacitor that can put out enough juice to power a home or fast-charge electric cars.
We've written before about the idea of using concrete for energy storage – back in 2021, a team from the Chalmers University of Technology showed how useful amounts of electrical energy could be stored in concrete poured around carbon fiber mesh electrodes, with mixed-in carbon fibers to add conductivity.
MIT's discovery appears to take things to the next level, since it does away with the need to lay mesh electrodes into the concrete, and instead allows the carbon black to form its own connected electrode structures as part of the curing process.
This process takes advantage of the way that water and cement react together; the water forms a branching network of channels in the concrete as it starts to harden, and the carbon black naturally migrates into those channels. These channels exhibit a fractal-like structure, larger branches splitting off into smaller and smaller ones – and that creates carbon electrodes with an extremely large surface area, running throughout the concrete.
Two of these branches, separated by an insulating layer or a thin space, work happily as the plates of a supercapacitor once the whole thing's been bathed in a standard electrolyte, like potassium chloride.
Supercapacitors, of course, can charge up and discharge almost immediately, so power density and output is generally much higher than you'd get with a standard lithium battery.
Energy density is lower, and there's a tradeoff to be made between how much energy is stored volumetrically and how strong you need your concrete to be, since adding more carbon black both boosts energy storage and weakens the final concrete.
But the great thing here is that this energy storage device doesn't need to be small; concrete tends to get used in bulk. An average American 2,000-sq-ft (185.8-m2) home built on a reasonably standard five-inch-thick (13-cm) concrete slab uses about 31 cubic yards (~24 m3) of concrete. Add more if you've got a driveway or a concreted garage, and significantly more again if the house is built using concrete walls or columns.
The MIT team says a 1,589-cu-ft (45 m3) block of nanocarbon black-doped concrete will store around 10 kWh of electricity – enough to cover around a third of the power consumption of the average American home, or to reduce your grid energy bill close to zero in conjunction with a decent-sized solar rooftop array. What's more, it would add little to no cost.
The team has tested these concrete supercaps at small scale, cutting out pairs of electrodes to create tiny 1-volt supercapacitors about the size of button-cell batteries, and using three of them to light up a 3-volt LED. Now, it's working on blocks the size of car batteries, and targeting a 1,589-cu-ft, 10-kWh version for a larger-scale demonstration.
https://assets.newatlas.com/dims4/defau ... 7%20pm.png[/img]
In small-scale lab tests, the MIT team cut out pairs of electrode discs and used these supercapacitors to power a 3-volt light-emitting diode (LED)MIT
It's a super-scalable technology, according to MIT Professor Franz-Josef Ulm, co-author on a new study published yesterday in the journal PNAS.
“You can go from 1-millimeter-thick electrodes to 1-meter-thick electrodes, and by doing so basically you can scale the energy storage capacity from lighting an LED for a few seconds, to powering a whole house," says Ulm in a press release.
Looking beyond the home, concrete is absolutely everywhere, from buildings to ground coverings to the road network. The team says this energy-storing concrete could be paired with roadside solar panels and inductive charging coils to create super-quick, drive-through wireless EV charging roads thanks to the supercapacitors' ability to pump bulk juice on demand.
There's also presumably a lot of concrete used in the foundations of large grid-based energy storage facilities, which raises the interesting possibility that a giant concrete supercapacitor might pair well with a slower-moving chemical battery, giving it the ability to deliver jolts of power to the grid quickly as well as longer-duration contributions at lower power.
On the other hand, it's unclear whether this kind of concrete would be suitable for outdoor use where it'll get wet. It's also unclear whether these concrete supercapacitors can practically be poured on-site to self-assemble in situ. Or indeed whether each electrode pair needs to be sealed, or indeed exactly where and how you'd wire these blocks of concrete up to power your house, or indeed whether concrete supercapacitors like this would be safe to touch.
Certainly a fascinating project, though, and we'll be interested to learn how it progresses.
The research is open-access in the journal PNAS.
Source: MIT News
https://newatlas.com/architecture/mit-c ... capacitor/
Erneuerbare Energien, 09.08.2023
El sistema de almacenamiento de zinc e hidrógeno podría producirse a una décima parte del coste de las pilas de litio y alimentar con hidrógeno el ciclo energético a demanda, afirman investigadores del Fraunhofer IZM. Las primeras pruebas de laboratorio han sido muy exitosas.
Almacenar energía de forma rentable y producir hidrógeno: eso puede hacer una novedosa pila de zinc. Las pruebas iniciales muestran una eficiencia del 50% en el almacenamiento de electricidad y del 80% en la producción de hidrógeno, con una vida útil prevista de diez años, según un comunicado de prensa del Fraunhofer IZM. El objetivo del proyecto de investigación Zn-H2 es desarrollar un sistema de almacenamiento de hidrógeno recargable eléctricamente que pueda almacenar energía en forma de zinc metálico y suministrar electricidad e hidrógeno a pedido.
Materiales fácilmente disponibles y reciclables
A diferencia de las pilas convencionales de litio, las de zinc son mucho más baratas, utilizan materia prima fácilmente disponible (acero, zinc, hidróxido de potasio) y son reciclables, como describe el IZM las ventajas de los materiales utilizados. Basándose en soluciones ya conocidas de pilas con ánodo de zinc, los investigadores combinaron esta tecnología con la electrólisis alcalina del agua. De este modo, el nuevo sistema de almacenamiento de energía podría permitir también la producción de hidrógeno.
La eficiencia global del almacenamiento de electricidad duplica a la de la conversión de energía en gas
"Durante la carga, el agua de la pila se oxida y se convierte en oxígeno, al tiempo que el óxido de zinc se reduce a zinc metálico", explica Robert Hahn, de Fraunhofer IZM. "Cuando la célula de almacenamiento se descarga lo necesario, el zinc se convierte de nuevo en óxido de zinc. A su vez, el agua se reduce de modo que se genera hidrógeno. Esto crea una combinación única de pila y producción de hidrógeno con una eficiencia global de almacenamiento de electricidad del 50%, lo que significa que duplicamos (la eficiencia) de la tecnología alternativa y actualmente preferida de conversión de energía en gas." Dado que los costes de material son menores que un décimo de los de una pila de litio, se abre una perspectiva económicamente atractiva para almacenar energía verde.
Así esta constituido el Sistema
Exitosas pruebas de laboratorio
Los investigadores ya han probado con éxito el principio básico del nuevo sistema en laboratorio y han examinado la eficiencia y la estabilidad de los ciclos de carga por células individuales: con un uso realista durante las pausas estacionales de oscuridad, pero también con un uso diario como sistema de almacenamiento solar, los catalizadores tendrían una vida útil de más de diez años. Sin embargo, el sistema aún tiene que pasar por varias fases de ampliación antes de ser apto para uso industrial.
El prototipo se construirá a finales de 2023
A finales de año se construirá un prototipo cuyo funcionamiento se investigará en un banco de pruebas. Por último, se conectarán eléctricamente ocho células con una capacidad aproximada de 12 voltios y 50 amperios-hora. Los investigadores están probando que la deposición galvánica es una técnica de producción rentable para la fabricación a gran escala del catalizador bifuncional: la reproducibilidad de la deposición será previamente examinada con pruebas.
https://www.erneuerbareenergien.de/tran ... asserstoff
Aug 15 2023, Reviewed by Laura Thomson
A pair of University of Central Florida researchers has developed new methods to produce energy and materials from the harmful greenhouse gas, methane.
UCF researchers Richard Blair (left) and Laurene Tetard (right) are long-time collaborators and have developed new methods to produce energy and materials from the harmful greenhouse gas, methane. Image Credit: University of Central Florida
Pound-for-pound, the comparative impact of methane on the Earth’s atmosphere is 28 times greater than carbon dioxide — another major greenhouse gas — over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
This is because methane is more efficient at trapping radiations, despite having a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Major sources of methane emissions include energy and industry, agriculture and landfills.
The new UCF innovations enable methane to be used in green energy production and to create high-performance materials for smart devices, biotechnology, solar cells and more.
The inventions come from nanotechnologist Laurene Tetard and catalysis expert Richard Blair, who have been research collaborators at UCF for the past 10 years.
Tetard is an associate professor and associate chair of UCF’s Department of Physics and a researcher with the NanoScience Technology Center, and Blair is a research professor at UCF’s Florida Space Institute
A Better, Cleaner Technology for Producing Hydrogen
The first invention is a method to produce hydrogen from hydrocarbons, such as methane, without releasing carbon gas.
By using visible light — such as a laser, lamp or solar source — and defect-engineered boron-rich photocatalysts, the innovation highlights a new functionality of nanoscale materials for visible light-assisted capture and the conversion of hydrocarbons like methane. Defect engineering refers to creating irregularly structured materials.
The UCF invention produces hydrogen that is free from contaminants, such as higher polyaromatic compounds, carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, that are common in reactions performed at higher temperatures on conventional catalysts.
The development can potentially lower the cost of catalysts used for creating energy, allow for more photocatalytic conversion in the visible range, and enables more efficient use of solar energy for catalysis.
Market applications include possible large-scale production of hydrogen in solar farms and the capture and conversion of methane.
“That invention is actually a twofer,” Blair says. “You get green hydrogen, and you remove — not really sequester — methane. You’re processing methane into just hydrogen and pure carbon that can be used for things like batteries.”
He says traditional hydrogen production uses high temperatures with methane and water, but in addition to hydrogen, that process also generates carbon dioxide.
“Our process takes a greenhouse gas, methane and converts it into something that’s not a greenhouse gas and two things that are valuable products, hydrogen and carbon,” Blair says. “And we’ve removed methane from the cycle.”
He noted that at UCF’s Exolith Lab they were able to generate hydrogen from methane gas using sunlight by putting the system on a large solar concentrator.
Knowing this, he says countries that don’t have abundant sources of power could use the invention since all they would need is methane and sunlight.
Besides oil and natural gas systems, methane exists in landfills, industrial and agricultural areas, and wastewater treatment sites.
Growing Contaminant-Free Carbon Nano/Microstructures
This technology developed by Tetard and Blair is a method for producing carbon nanoscale and microscale structures with controlled dimensions. It uses light and a defect-engineered photocatalyst to make patterned, well-defined nanoscale and microscale structures from numerous carbon sources. Examples include methane, ethane, propane, propene and carbon monoxide.
“It’s like having a carbon 3D printer instead of a polymer 3D printer,” Tetard says. “If we have a tool like this, then maybe there are even some carbon scaffolding designs we can come up with that are impossible today.”
Blair says the dream is to make high-performance carbon materials from methane, which is currently not done very well right now, he says.
“So, this invention would be a way to make such materials from methane in a sustainable manner on a large industrial scale,” Blair says.
The carbon structures produced are small but well structured, and can be arranged precisely, with precise sizes and patterns.
“Now you’re talking high-dollar applications, perhaps for medical devices or new chemical sensors,” Blair says. “This becomes a platform for developing all sorts of products. The application is only limited by the imagination.”
Since the growth process is tunable at different wavelengths, design methods could incorporate various lasers or solar illumination.
Tetard’s lab, which works at the nanoscale, is now trying to reduce the size.
“We’re trying to think of a way to learn from the process and see how we could make it work at even the smaller scales — control the light in a tiny volume,” she says.
“Right now, the size of the structures is microscale because the light focal volume we create is microsize,” she says. “So, if we can control the light in a tiny volume, maybe we can grow nano-sized objects for patterned nanostructures a thousand times smaller. That’s something we’re thinking of implementing in the future. And then, if that becomes possible, there are many things we can do with that.”
A Better, Cleaner Technology for Producing Carbon
The researchers’ better, cleaner technology for producing hydrogen was actually inspired by an earlier innovative method of theirs that makes carbon from defect-engineered boron-nitride using visible light.
They discovered a new way to produce carbon and hydrogen through a chemical cracking of hydrocarbons with energy supplied by visible light coupling with a metal-free catalyst, defect-engineered boron-nitride.
Compared to other methods, it’s better because it doesn’t require significant energy, time, or special reagents or precursors that leave impurities.
All that’s left is carbon and some traces of boron and nitrogen, none of which are toxic to humans or the environment.
The photochemical transformation technology lends itself to many applications, including sensors or new components for nanoelectronics, energy storage, quantum devices and green hydrogen production.
As longtime research collaborators Tetard and Blair are all too familiar with the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
“It took a while to get some really exciting results,” Tetard says. “In the beginning, a lot of the characterization that we tried to do was not working the way we wanted. We sat down to discuss puzzling observations so many times.”
Yet, they plowed forward, and their perseverance paid off with their new inventions.
“Richard has a million different ideas on how to fix problems,” Tetard says. “So eventually, we would find something that works.”
She and Blair joined forces shortly after meeting in 2013 at UCF’s physics department. Blair had just discovered catalytic properties in the chemical compound boron nitride that were “unheard of” and wanted to publish the information and do more research.
He had a collaborator for theoretical modeling, Talat Rahman, a distinguished Pegasus Professor in the Department of Physics, but he needed someone to help characterize the findings.
“At the characterization level, that’s not where my strength is,” he says. “I have strengths that complement Laurene’s strengths. It made sense to see if we could do something together and if she could add some insight to what we were seeing.”
So, in collaboration with Rahman and funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, they hoped to gain a molecular understanding of the catalytic properties defect-laden, hexagonal (crystal structured) boron nitride, a metal-free catalyst.
Typical catalysts often consist of metals, and boron nitride, sometimes called “white graphite,” has had many industrial uses due to its slippery properties, but not for catalysis.
“Until we came along, that kind of boron nitride was considered just inert,” Blair says. “Maybe a lubricant, maybe for cosmetics. But it didn’t have any chemical use. However, with defect engineering, the research team found that the compound had great potential for producing carbon and green hydrogen, possibly in large volumes.”
The technology the team developed for making carbon from defect-engineered boron-nitride using visible light came unexpectedly.
Blair says that to analyze the catalyst’s surface, they would place it in a small container, pressurize it with a hydrocarbon gas, such as propene, and then expose it to laser light.
“Each time, it did two things that were frustrating,” he says. “The catalyst itself emitted light that obscured any data we needed, and the student kept saying, ‘it’s getting burned’ and I would say that’s impossible. There’s no carbon on the catalyst.”
“And there was no oxygen,” adds Tetard. They were stumped.
“If we wanted to study that burning spot, it needed to be bigger,” she says.
Once they managed to produce a larger sample, they put it under the electron microscope.
“We started seeing some lines, but it’s a loose, messy powder, so it shouldn’t be ordered,” Tetard said. “But when we zoomed in some more, we saw some carbon and lots of it, with the defect-engineered boron-nitride powder clinging to the top of it.”
What was seen as a problem was actually serendipitous, as the discovery would allow hydrogen production at low temperatures and the production of carbon as a by-product with no release of greenhouse gases or pollutants.
Matthew Carroll, February 23, 2023
FAST-synthesized perovskite samples with different sizes and shapes Credit: Penn State . All Rights Reserved.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Perovskites, a family of materials with unique electric properties, show promise for use in a variety fields, including next-generation solar cells. A Penn State-led team of scientists created a new process to fabricate large perovskite devices that is more cost- and time-effective than previously possible and that they said may accelerate future materials discovery.
“This method we developed allows us to easily create very large bulk samples within several minutes, rather than days or weeks using traditional methods,” said Luyao Zheng, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Materials Science at Penn State and lead author on the study. “And our materials are high quality — their properties can compete with single-crystal perovskites.”
The researchers used a sintering method called the electrical and mechanical field-assisted sintering technique (EM-FAST) to create the devices. Sintering is a commonly used process to compress fine powders into a solid mass of material using heat and pressure.
A typical process for making perovskites involves wet chemistry — the materials are liquefied in a solvent solution and then solidified into thin films. These materials have excellent properties, but the approach is expensive and inefficient for creating large perovskites and the solvents used may be toxic, the scientists said.
“Our technique is the best of both worlds,” said Bed Poudel, a researcher professor at Penn State and a co-author. “We get single-crystal-like properties, and we don’t have to worry about size limitations or any contamination or yield of toxic materials.”
Because it uses dry materials, the EM-FAST technique opens the door to include new dopants, ingredients added to tailor device properties, that are not compatible with the wet chemistry used to make thin films, potentially accelerating the discovery of new materials, the scientists said.
“This opens up possibilities to design and develop new classes of materials, including better thermoelectric and solar materials, as well as X- and γ-ray detectors,” said Amin Nozariasbmarz, assistant research professor at Penn State and a co-author. “Some of the applications are things we already know, but because this is a new technique to make new halide perovskite materials with controlled properties, structures, and compositions, maybe there is room in the future for new breakthroughs to come from that.”
In addition, the new process allows for layered materials — one powder underneath another — to create designer compositions. In the future, manufactures could design specific devices and then directly print them from dry powders, the scientists said.
“We anticipate this FAST perovskite would open another dimension for high throughput material synthesis, future manufacturing directly printing devices from powder and accelerating the material discovery of new perovskite compositions,” said Kai Wang, an assistant research professor at Penn State and a co-author.
EM-FAST, also known as spark plasma sintering, involves applying electric current and pressure to powders to create new materials. The process has a 100% yield — all the raw ingredients go into the final device, as opposed to 20 to 30% in solution-based processing.
The technique produced perovskite materials at .2 inch per minute, allowing scientists to create quickly create large devices that maintained high performance in laboratory tests. The team reported their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Penn State scientists have long used EM-FAST to create thermoelectric devices. This work represents the first attempt to create perovskite materials with the technique, the scientists said.
“Because of the background we have, we were talking and thought we could change some parameters and try this with perovskites,” Nozariasbmarz said. “And it just opened a door to a new world. This paper is a link to that door — to new materials and new properties.”
Other Penn State researchers on the project were Wenjie Li and Dong Yang, assistant research professors; Ke Wang, staff scientist in the Materials Research Institute; Jungjin Yoon, Tao Ye and Yu Zhang, postdoctoral researchers; Yuchen Hou, doctoral candidate; and Shashank Priya, former associate vice president for research and director of strategic initiatives and professor of materials science and engineering.
Also contributing was Mohan Sanghadasa, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center.
Researchers received support from the National Science Foundation Industry-University Research Partnerships’ Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Office of Naval Research and Army Research.
https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story ... lar-cells/
By team IO, 18/06/2023
SUSTAINABILITY - Currently, zinc-air batteries have energy densities more than three times higher than lithium-ion batteries, but advancements are required to match their specific energy and voltage levels.
Prototype zinc-air battery
Researchers from Tohoku University have made a game-changing innovation in zinc-air batteries, significantly improving their performance and making them a strong contender against lithium-ion batteries. By using a novel iron azaphthalocyanine unimolecular layer (AZUL) electrocatalyst and a tandem electrolyte system, the team boosted the potential of zinc-air batteries to approximately 2.25 V and a high power density of 318 mW/cm2. This opens up opportunities for zinc-air batteries to be used in advanced devices such as drones, electric vehicles, and grid-scale energy storage systems.
Theoretically, zinc-air batteries have a higher energy density than Li-ion batteries.
There are limitations currently stopping the use of zinc-air in power-hungry applications like cars.
With the Tohoku University innovation, zinc-air may become competitive with Li-ion.
Understanding zinc-air batteries
Zinc-air batteries are a type of metal-air battery powered by the oxidation of zinc with oxygen from the air. They are known for their high energy densities and relatively low cost of production, making them an attractive option for various applications. However, their low power density and standard voltage of around 1.4 V have limited their use in advanced devices.
The innovation from Tohoku University involves the development of cobalt oxide/carbon nanotube hybrid catalysts and nickel-iron layered double hydroxide cathode catalysts, which exhibit higher catalytic activity and durability. This results in a zinc-air battery with a peak power density of around 265 mW/cm³ and energy density greater than 700 Wh/kg. The innovation also includes rechargeable zinc-air batteries with small charge-discharge voltage polarisation and high reversibility.
Comparing with lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most popular battery type, with a specific energy of around 150-250 Wh/kg and a nominal cell voltage of around 3.6 V. In comparison, current zinc-air batteries have a specific energy of 470 Wh/kg (practical) and 1370 Wh/kg (theoretical), as well as a specific power of 100 W/kg. The nominal cell voltage for zinc-air batteries is 1.45 V. With the Tohoku University innovation, the energy density of zinc-air batteries can potentially increase to 400-500 Wh/kg, which is comparable to or even higher than that of lithium-ion batteries. The voltage can also be increased to 1.6-1.8 V.
Which emerging battery technology will define our future?
Emerging battery technologies hold great potential to impact various industries, from energy transition and electric vehicles to medical applications.
Although zinc-air batteries have a higher energy density and potentially higher specific energy than lithium-ion batteries, further improvements are needed to match the specific energy and voltage levels of lithium-ion batteries. The innovation by Tohoku University researchers is a significant step towards achieving this goal, boosting the potential of zinc-air batteries to approximately 2.25 V and a high power density of 318 mW/cm².
Potential near-future applications
With their higher energy density and improved performance, zinc-air batteries have the potential to become a competitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries in the near future. Possible applications for zinc-air batteries include electric vehicle batteries, portable electronics, and utility-scale energy storage systems. Zinc-air batteries are already used to replace now-discontinued mercury batteries commonly used in photo cameras and hearing aids.
In addition, the AZUL electrocatalyst and tandem electrolyte system developed by the Tohoku University researchers show high stability and excellent oxygen reduction reaction performance in an ultralow pH region. The tandem-electrolyte cells demonstrated a cell voltage of over 1.0 V at a high discharge current density of 200 mA/cm², and the output power density reached 1139 mWh/g(Zn) at 100 mA/cm² discharge. This innovation could pave the way for the use of zinc-air batteries as a drive power source in cutting-edge devices, such as drones and other advanced electronics.
https://innovationorigins.com/en/ground ... echnology/
Ultra-hot carbon batteries promise super-cheap heat and energy storage
Loz Blain, August 29, 2023
Antora is installing the "world’s first field demonstration of a thermal battery capable of outputting zero-carbon heat and power for days on end" Antora Energy
Bill Gates-backed startup Antora Energy is preparing to roll out a containerized, modular heat battery, designed to store renewable energy at the lowest possible cost – then release it efficiently as electricity or industrial process heat.
It's all in the name of decarbonizing heavy industry – a job that simply needs to be done, and a tricky one given the intermittent nature of renewable energy. It's easy for factories to run 24/7 when there's fossil fuel available to create heat as required, but what about when the Sun's not shining?
We've written before about Rondo's "brick toaster" heat batteries, which propose a solution: use cheap renewable energy to heat up regular old clay bricks in insulated containers, then recover that energy as needed at about one-fifth the cost of a chemical battery, in the form of process heat at up to 1,500 °C (2,700 °F). Using cheap, abundant materials, Rondo hopes to deploy this solution at colossal scale, with no less of a goal than reducing global CO2 emissions by 15% within 15 years.
The company's first demonstration unit, being deployed at Wellhead Electric Company's facilities in California Antora Energy
Antora believes its carbon-based system could be even cheaper and more useful. More useful both because it's hotter, capable of delivering heat at upwards of 2,000 °C (3,632 °F), so it's immediately relevant to huge industrial segments like steelmaking. And because the energy can also be recovered as electricity through super-efficient thermophotovoltaic panels.
Co-founder and CEO Andrew Ponec explained Antora's choice of carbon blocks in a Medium post, but in essence:
*As a waste product of several other industrial processes and a common input to the metals industry, these blocks are available in virtually unlimited quantities, through well established supply chains.
*"Among the least expensive bulk thermal storage materials available," with a materials cost around US$1/kWh – about 50 times cheaper than lithium-ion batteries.
* They're non-toxic, conflict-free, and cause no environmental issues in solid form
* High thermal conductivity, and high mechanical strength that increases as it gets hotter, gives solid carbon the ability to rapidly absorb large amounts of energy
* The blocks remain solid at upwards of 3,000 °C (5,432 °F), roughly twice the temperature at which steel melts, sidestepping many issues found with molten salts, and other liquid heat storage media
* High energy density makes these carbon blocks easy to transport, and gives Antora's heat batteries a small footprint on site
* They're compatible with ultra-high temperature applications
Rock-bottom material costs and massive volumetric energy storage density Antora Energy
"The final advantage of the extreme temperature stability of carbon is related to heat transfer," wrote Ponec. "Radiative heat transfer is proportional to the temperature of the source object raised to the fourth power (T⁴), so if you double the temperature you increase the radiative heat transfer by 16 times. That’s a powerful scaling factor! The upshot is that at temperatures above 1,500 °C, heat transfer works completely differently than we’re used to at room temperature. Radiation dominates over conduction and convection. For example, at 2,000 °C, over 99% of heat transfer occurs through light, not conduction and convection."
Antora's system thus harnesses the thermal glow off its carbon bricks using light radiation, which Ponec describes as "much simpler, cheaper and more reliable than the alternatives." If a customer wants the energy back as heat, the system will heat up tubes containing steam, hot air or some other process fluid, which can be piped around the facility wherever heat is required.
If the customer wants electricity, Antora can convert the heat to provide it. "We shine it on modified photovoltaic panels (similar to solar panels) to generate electricity," explained Ponec. "Our team has developed a world-record-breaking solid-state heat engine that converts radiant heat into electricity with only a few micrometers of material and no moving parts. This is a story for another day, but for now let’s just say it’s quite useful to have a compact, power-dense, scalable, and efficient device capable of converting heat into electricity!"
A test furnace glows at upwards of 1,500 °CAntora Energy
This makes us think of a breakthrough thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell out of MIT that we wrote about last year, capable of converting heat into electricity at efficiency levels around 40% – significantly better than the humble steam turbine, which averages closer to 35%. Indeed, the researchers involved mentioned a graphite-based heat storage and recovery system as one of their chief goals.
Since Antora is also an MIT spinout, we wondered if it might indeed be this TPV heat engine that's used in Antora's carbon heat battery system. But no, it appears to be using a different gallium indium arsenide TPV cell developed by a separate team, with an efficiency that's been demonstrated at 38.8% in a paper published last November in the journal Joule.
Antora told MIT News that it's already opened a manufacturing facility for these TPV cells – the biggest such factory in the world, with a projected capacity of 2 MW of cells per year. It's working on industrial projects in the 30-60 MW range, across the United States, expecting to see carbon battery installations come online from around 2025, and the company hopes to scale aggressively.
The carbon heat batteries are containerized, so they can be assembled at a central factory and easily shipped out to site, where clients can install as many as they need in a modular formation.
Source: Antora Energy
The dawn of lightweight solar panels: a game changer in renewable energy
Lightweight solar panels allow for harnessing sunlight, where it's not possible with conventional photovoltaic cells.
© Raze Solar - Unsplash
BY LAIO, 3 AUGUST 2023
Lightweight solar panels are revolutionizing the solar industry, with the potential to overcome structural limitations of buildings and accelerate solar technology deployment. Despite higher initial costs and lower efficiency, lightweight solar panels present an innovative solution for structures that cannot bear the weight of standard panels. The trade-off between efficiency and flexibility will depend on individual circumstances, but the advancement in lightweight solar technology undoubtedly unlocks new opportunities for solar power applications.
Lightweight solar panels: a solution for structural limitationsLightweight solar panels allow for harnessing sunlight, where it’s not possible with conventional photovoltaic (PV) cells.
Not all buildings can bear the weight of standard solar modules.
Currently, lightweight solar panels are still too expensive and have a lower efficiency than “heavier” ones.
One of the key challenges of implementing solar technology is the structural integrity of the buildings. Traditional solar panels are heavy, and not all structures can bear the weight. However, recent developments in lightweight solar technology provide solutions for such limitations. A collaboration between Netherlands-based manufacturers, Solarge and Econcore, has led to the creation of lightweight solar panels, which are fully recyclable and up to 65 percent lighter than conventional ones.
These panels eliminate the need for an aluminum frame, significantly reducing their weight and making them more impact-resistant. Additionally, these lightweight panels are more suitable for weight-restricted buildings. An Australian company, Goodwe, has also introduced a frameless solar panel 60 percent lighter than conventional PV modules, designed specifically for rooftops that cannot support traditional PV and racking.
Flexible installation options and faster deployment
With their reduced weight, lightweight solar panels offer more flexible installation options. They can be installed on non-traditional surfaces such as carports, sheds, and vehicles, making them ideal for off-grid applications. This flexibility opens up a wide range of options for solar portability, previously unsuitable for heavy, traditional panels. For instance, they are being used to replace diesel power in caravans, boats, and during camping.
The lightweight nature of these panels also allows for faster and easier installation. Less invasive fixing to the structure means that installation can be completed more quickly, providing a cost saving on the installation process. This is a significant advantage for commercial and residential buildings requiring grid connection, where the reduced weight and panel flexibility of lightweight solar panels offer additional installation options.
Performance and efficiency considerations
While lightweight solar panels offer many advantages, it’s important to consider their performance and efficiency. Standard, rigid solar panels typically have an efficiency rating of between 16 and 20 percent. On the other hand, lightweight or flexible solar panels currently offer an efficiency of between 7 and 15 percent, some 25 to 50 percent less.
This means more lightweight solar panels will be needed to generate the same power as a standard rigid panel set-up. So comparatively, the cost will be higher for a lightweight solar array, though lower installation costs will somewhat offset this. However, for more portable and personal solar applications, such as vehicles and camping, performance issues are less apparent.
Cost implications and long-term use
Lightweight solar panels typically cost more than rigid solar panels. The total installed cost of lightweight panels for a commercial or residential grid-connected system is around 30 to 40 percent more expensive than for an equivalent rigid solar array. Not only are the lightweight panels more costly, but due to lower efficiency, more panels are needed to match the power output of an equivalent rigid panel system.
When considering the total cost of ownership over the expected lifetime of a solar solution, particularly in commercial and residential grid-connected systems, the shorter lifespan of lightweight solar panels becomes a factor. This is why they have a shorter warranty period, and if the panels are to be used long-term for, say, residential power generation, the replacement cost of the entire array (and potential replacement of damaged panels in addition to this) should be factored into the lifetime expected cost of the solar solution.
The future of lightweight solar panels
Despite the challenges, lightweight solar panels present a significant breakthrough in the solar industry. They are an innovative solution to the structural limitations of buildings, offering more installation options and potentially speeding up the deployment of solar technologies. As with any emerging technology, increased use and further research and development will ultimately improve power output and performance.
Solarge, Econcore, and GoodWe contribute to this development, making solar technology more accessible and versatile. While the initial costs and lower efficiency may be deterrents for some, the potential benefits and opportunities that lightweight solar panels offer cannot be overlooked. They are paving the way for a more flexible and inclusive solar-powered world.
https://innovationorigins.com/en/the-da ... le-energy/
Ben Coxworth, September 08, 2023
Lithium chloride crystals quickly form on strings hung in lithium-rich brine Bumper DeJesus
Although lithium can be found in hard mineral ores, it's more often extracted from very salty (aka briny) groundwater. The latter task could soon be much quicker and eco-friendlier, thanks to a new string-based extraction technique.
Currently, lithium-rich brine must be pumped into surface-located manmade ponds, where it's left to sit for anywhere from several months to a few years. Throughout this period, the water itself evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving concentrated salts behind. Lithium is then harvested from those salts.
Besides taking a long time, this process also requires a lot of land for the large evaporation ponds. Additionally, in order to make such huge operations economically feasible, most of them must be located in the few places that have large and plentiful underground lithium brine deposits. These locations must also have arid climates that boost evaporation.
Traditional lithium brine evaporation ponds in NevadaDoc Searls/CC 2.0
With such drawbacks in mind, Prof. Z. Jason Ren and colleagues at Princeton University have devised a new lithium-extraction process. It yields usable lithium within less than one month, occupies about 10% as much land as the ponds, and is worthwhile utilizing in a wide variety of locations where even modest amounts of lithium brine are present.
The technique incorporates strings made from inexpensive twisted cellulose fibers. Each of those porous fibers has a hydrophilic (water-attracting) core, surrounded by a hydrophobic (water-repelling) surface.
Arrays of these strings are hung over brine-filled reservoirs, with the bottom end of each string immersed in the liquid. Capillary action draws the liquid up the cores of the strings' fibers, while the surfaces of those fibers push the liquid out into the air where its water content quickly evaporates.
As a result, each string ends up covered in lithium chloride and sodium chloride crystals that can be harvested by hand. Fortunately, the lithium and sodium aren't intermixed. Because lithium salts are highly soluble, they crystalize toward the top of each string, while the less-soluble sodium salts (which are also useful) crystallize toward the bottom.
Graduate student Meiqi Yang examines one of the lithium-extracting stringsBumper DeJesus
The scientists have already demonstrated a 100-string setup, and are now working on boosting the efficiency of the technique. They have also formed a spinoff company, PureLi Inc, to commercialize the technology.
"Our process is like putting an evaporation pond on a string, allowing us to obtain lithium harvests with a significantly reduced spatial footprint and with more precise control of the process," said study co-author Dr. Sunxiang (Sean) Zheng. "If scaled, we may open up new vistas for environmentally friendly lithium extraction."
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nature Water. (NB! por subscripción)
Source: Princeton University
Martin Luther King
MOBILITY - Replacing expensive metals like nickel and cobalt with iron and manganese, ONE has successfully developed a more sustainable and cost-effective solution.
BY TEAM IO, 18 SEPTEMBER 2023
AI generated image of an EV battery development lab
Michigan-based startup, Our Next Energy (ONE), has made a landmark innovation with the Aries II battery, replacing traditionally used expensive metals with iron and manganese. This novel battery is not only more cost-effective but also more sustainable, promising a whopping 560km range and increasing energy density by 16%. The Aries II battery is just the beginning for ONE with plans to launch the Gemini battery in 2025, aiming to provide a remarkable 1000km range on a single charge. The use of iron and manganese instead of nickel and cobalt not only reduces the production costs but also enhances the sustainability of the battery production process.
A breakthrough in battery technologyMichigan startup Our Next Energy (ONE) has developed the Aries II EV battery using iron and manganese
ONE plans to launch the Gemini battery in 2025, which aims to deliver a remarkable 1000km range per charge.
The Aries II battery increases energy density by 16% over typical LFP batteries, matching range and mass of leading nickel cobalt batteries.
The Aries II battery, developed by ONE, is a game-changer in the electric vehicle (EV) industry. By using iron and manganese instead of expensive metals like nickel and cobalt, it becomes more cost-effective and sustainable. This innovative approach offers a range of 560km, a feat achieved by packing more cells into the power pack. An additional benefit of this design is the reduction of heat, making the battery safer. ONE’s unique iron-based chemistry increases energy density by 16%, leading to a longer-lasting and more efficient power source for EVs.
“The team took on the challenge of achieving energy parity with (nickel-cobalt) batteries, we looked at everything, from improving cell chemistry to redesigning the inside of the pack,” says ONE’s chief battery engineer Chris Hughes. The use of iron and manganese, cheaper and more readily available metals, substantially reduces the production costs of the batteries. Moreover, most of the iron used by ONE is sourced locally from North America, further enhancing the sustainability of the battery production process.
On the road to a greener future
ONE’s innovative approach doesn’t stop with the Aries II battery. The company plans to launch the Gemini battery in 2025, which is expected to provide an astounding range of over 1000km on a single charge. This ambitious project aims to provide EV drivers with the range required for long-distance travel, thus fostering mass EV adoption. The development of the Aries II and Gemini batteries underlines the continuous progress in EV battery technology, making electric vehicles a more viable option for many consumers.
Replacing expensive metals like nickel and cobalt with iron and manganese, ONE has successfully developed a more sustainable and cost-effective solution. This breakthrough in battery technology could signal a new era of advancements in battery chemistry and, by extension, improvements in EV performance.
Matching the performance of traditional batteries
The Aries II battery has successfully closed the gap in range and mass to within six percent of the leading benchmark nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) battery typically used in electric vehicles. Furthermore, it costs 25 percent less than a comparable NCM battery and significantly reduces the risk of thermal runaway.
World’s longest-range electric car unveiled by TUM students
Students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed the longest range electric car in the world.
ONE’s Aries II battery has achieved a 20-30 percent increase in energy density over typical lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery systems, with an energy density of 263 Wh/L and 162 Wh/kg. This impressive improvement in energy density and the lightweight design of the Aries II battery allow it to provide over 560km of range to a typical passenger EV. The Aries II batteries are expected to be fully compliant with Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) requirements when production begins in late 2024 at ONE Circle in Van Buren Township, Michigan.
Beyond the battery: A greener supply chain
ONE’s efforts to make EVs more sustainable don’t stop at the batteries themselves. The company also focuses on establishing a more sustainable supply chain. The raw materials used in producing the Aries II battery are abundant in North America, further reducing the environmental impact of the battery production process.
ONE has also designed the cells of the Aries II battery to be thinner, which reduces heat. This design feature, combined with the company’s new iron-based LFP chemistry, increases the battery’s volumetric energy density by 16%. The Aries II battery is expected to be produced at scale in Michigan, USA, from 2024 at ONE Circle, which will manufacture enough cells to produce 240,000 Aries II and Gemini packs annually.
https://innovationorigins.com/en/no-nic ... batteries/