New Water-Based Battery to Store Solar, Wind Energy

The development of these batteries is still at a prototype stage


Researchers at Stanford claim to have developed a water-based battery that can provide a better solution than lithium-ion for storing solar and wind energy, according to the journal Nature Energy.

Though the development of a manganese-hydrogen battery is still at a prototype stage, scientists working on the project believe that they can create an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge a grid-scale battery up to 10,000 times with a lifespan of over a decade.

Numerous technologies are being developed for large-scale energy storage, but currently lithium-ion is the main chemistry used for battery systems at the grid level. While areas like California in the U.S., Australia, and Germany have hundreds of megawatt-hours of energy storage online, in other locations energy storage costs are still a barrier to widespread adoption even as the price of lithium has come down dramatically over the past few years. Lithium-ion systems also use elements such as lithium and cobalt that are relatively rare in the Earth’s crust, making the long-term availability of supply a concern.

To store energy from renewables, batteries need to be low-cost, high-capacity, and rechargeable for them to be economically viable. The manganese-hydrogen process developed by Stanford scientists can be a useful alternative as it uses low-cost materials that are highly abundant and it is relatively simple to make.

For example, given the expected lifespan of a water-based battery, it would cost less than a penny to store the energy to power a 100-watt lightbulb for 12 hours.

“Manganese-hydrogen battery technology could be one of the missing pieces in the energy puzzle – a way to store unpredictable wind or solar energy and lessen the need to burn reliable but carbon-emitting fossil fuels,” said Yi Cui, a professor of materials science at Stanford in a media release.

This breakthrough is a significant step in creating low-cost, long-lasting utility-scale batteries.

A patent process through the Stanford Office of Technology Licensing is underway and commercial production of the batteries will start once the precise materials and design are finalized.

Mercom recently reported that the energy storage industry is rapidly gaining momentum in markets around the world. The global battery storage sector attracted $299 million in corporate funding during the first quarter (Q1) of 2018.