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Surprising Science

New Battery Set to Be a Boom for Green Industries

A lingering problem with renewable energy is that it is not a consistent producer. But a new battery can store energy for later use, making renewables more cost-effective for business.

What’s the Latest Development?

Advances in renewable energy technologies, which have occurred rapidly over the last decade, remain somewhat mitigated by the difficulty in storing the energy they produce. But a new water-based sodium-ion battery, developed at Murdoch’s School of Chemical and Mathematical Sciences, has shown good potential for affordable, low-temperature storage. Researchers tested various metals and phosphates, “eventually finding success with manganese dioxide as the cathode and a novel olivine sodium phosphate as the anode. The result is a safe, cost-effective battery with high energy density.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Batteries currently working to store renewable energy supplies, so they can be used when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining, operate at high temperatures which make them expensive to run. The new salt-based battery, however, can be used at lower temperatures and has the advantage of being based on globally abundant and affordable sodium, iron and manganese, “putting green energy potential in the hands of the developing world.” The researchers behind the battery are now looking to commercialize it for large scale use, “including storing energy from wind turbines and solar farms for later feeding into local electricity grids, as well as use in industry.”

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