US researchers have developed a new “long-life” battery they claim could help solar and wind power become major suppliers to the electricity grid.
Wind and solar currently provide intermittent power and the electricity grid cannot tolerate large and sudden power fluctuations, according to the researchers at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.
They have designed a new type of “flow” battery, which they claim could smooth those fluctuations and also has the potential for large-scale production.
Yi Cui, a Stanford Associate Professor of materials Science and Engineering said: “For solar and wind power to be used in a significant way, we need a battery made of economical materials that are easy to scale and still efficient. We believe our new battery may be the best yet designed to regulate the natural fluctuations of these alternative energies.
“In initial lab tests, the new battery also retained excellent energy-storage performance through more than 2,000 charges and discharges, equivalent to more than 5.5 years of daily cycles.”
The researchers created a miniature system using chemicals lithium-polysulphide for the solution which produced electricity to light an LED (pictured).