Innovative battery design may empower renewable energy storage efforts

Long battery life is an objective for manufacturers in a number of industries, from consumer electronics to heavy manufacturing. Innovative advancements in the bonding of battery terminals contribute to continuing research in the effort to expand battery life, which could be particularly valuable for the burgeoning renewable energy industry.

As a recent research report from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory describes, renewable energy advocates appreciate new sources of energy – solar and wind in particular – for their ability to reduce reliance on traditional energy sources. However, electrical grid operators must find more efficient and effective ways to storage this energy, something existing lead-acid batteries and pumped hydropower techniques have not been able to achieve to a satisfactory degree.

The researchers' efforts to address these challenges were published last month in Nature Communications. The team found that it was able to mix certain inexpensive materials – including carbon, copper and a liquid comprising sodium and potassium – to develop an ideal battery for use in the electrical grid. Their efforts seemed to work – the battery held 83 percent of its capacity after 40,000 charge cycles in earlier runs, and later was shown to sustain up to 1,000 charges without significant energy loss.

Ultimately, the work being done by the team at Stanford and SLAC demonstrate how innovations in battery design continue to break down barriers that were previously thought insurmountable. We see improvements in battery design and thermal management each day with the consistent rollout of smaller, more powerful consumer electronics, but this research shows this is only the first step in sustained efforts to improve battery technology.

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