Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grid battery energy storage break-through a promising solution for solar and wind power

Large scale grid power storage for energy may become possible with use of nanoparticle electrodes for batteries being researched and developed by researchers at Stanford University in the US.

The copper compound nanoparticle electorodes are cheap and easy to make for easy scaling for industrial production. This break-through development could lead to building batteries big enough for economical large-scale energy storage on the electrical grid. Such development offers a significant solution to intermittent energy production by solar and wind power.

"That is a breakthrough performance – a battery that will keep running for tens of thousands of cycles and never fail," said Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, who coauthored the a paper published this week in Nature Communications.

The researchers have been able to readily synthesize the electrode material in gram quantities in the lab. They say the process should easily be scaled up to commercial levels of production.

"We put chemicals in a flask and you get this electrode material. You can do that on any scale," said Colin Wessells, a graduate student in materials science and engineering and ead author of a paper describing the research. "There are no technical challenges to producing this on a big-enough scale to actually build a real battery."

From the abstract in Nature Communications:

Here we show that crystalline nanoparticles of copper hexacyanoferrate, which has an ultra-low strain open framework structure, can be operated as a battery electrode in inexpensive aqueous electrolytes. After 40,000 deep discharge cycles at a 17?C rate, 83% of the original capacity of copper hexacyanoferrate is retained. Even at a very high cycling rate of 83?C, two thirds of its maximum discharge capacity is observed. At modest current densities, round-trip energy efficiencies of 99% can be achieved. The low-cost, scalable, room-temperature co-precipitation synthesis and excellent electrode performance of copper hexacyanoferrate make it attractive for large-scale energy storage systems.

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