Eco Factor: Liquid metal battery made using earth-abundant elements.
The problem with the global adoption of renewable energy is the high cost of the system and the high cost of the batteries that can store surplus power for times when renewable energy generation isn’t possible. Researchers at MIT are trying to solve the riddle with a new battery technology that offers low cost per watt and is made using earth-abundant elements.
Conventional lithium-ion batteries are made using rare earth materials that are harder to contain and work with. The research team of the Sadoway Group took a radical approach to battery development by coming up with a small battery made from antimony and magnesium sandwiching an electrolyte.
The battery isn’t great for small devices, as the layers inside need to be oriented in a certain way. However, the same technology can benefit solar and wind power plants where it can be stationed at a different location to store power more efficiently. Apart from other advantages, this battery technology lowers the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity. Over the next year the researchers will be scaling up the battery from its diminutive size to one that’s a foot in diameter.