New energy storage catalysts

The double perovskite  has atoms of barium (green) and a lanthanide (purple) within a structure of cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red). Photo credit: MIT research team

The perovskite has atoms of barium (green) and lanthanide (purple) within a cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red) structure. Photo credit: MIT research team

They’re abundant, new to science and, say researchers at MIT, give the best ever performance in a reaction that is key to advanced fuel cells and lithium-air batteries. The materials are known as double perovskites and are a variant of minerals commonly found in the Earth’s crust.
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Batteries aren’t worth it to store wind

Wind farm

Batteries won’t work for wind. Pic courtesy of Gamesa.

Stanford University scientists have worked out that from an energy point of view it doesn’t make sense to store wind power in batteries. The energy cost of building the batteries is more than the value of the power that would be lost through curtailment.

The researchers compared the finding to the cost of storing cash in a safe, noting that it would not be worth paying USD$100 to store a $10 watch. Since wind power is so cheap, buying batteries to store the excess energy it produces is not worth the effort. This is not the case with photovoltaic energy, which costs more to produce in the first place.

Nor does it apply to other forms of energy storage: storing excess wind power in pumped hydro reserves, for example, is still energetically economical. The authors note that the value of batteries for excess wind energy storage could be improved by increasing their cycle life.

To be worth the investment for wind energy storage, batteries would have to last between 10,000 and 18,000 cycles, they say.

Clay key for better supercapacitors

A composite of clay and an electrolyte serves as both electrolyte and a separator in a supercapacitor. Photo credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University

A composite of clay and electrolyte serves as both electrolyte and separator in a supercapacitor. Photo credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University

Supercapacitors have been in the news a lot recently, with researchers and investors alike hoping they can combine the rapid charging and high energy densities of conventional capacitor devices with the slow release of energy associated with batteries.
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Nanotech T-shirt offers storage to wear

In the future, energy storage could be as important as style when shopping for clothes.

In the future, energy storage could be as important as style when shopping for clothes. Photo credit: Oxfordian World

What’s the best place to store electricity? Many solutions are being suggested, from household fuel cell energy storage units to your electric vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. But a fascinating article in Nanowerk explores the idea that we’ll one day be powering our wearable electronics with electricity generated and stored in the clothes on our back.
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Opinion: the negative end of batteries

Batteries undergoing testing.

Batteries undergoing testing. Photo credit: O. Usher, UCL MAPS

This article was previously published in Marine Renewable Energy.

It was probably only to be expected in a market as young and fickle as energy storage. We spend our time espousing the benefits of battery storage then a study comes to light that puts those benefits in doubt.
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Battery design gets nanotube boost

NSCU have aligned silicon-coated carbon nanotubes like a layer of drinking straws.

NCSU team aligns silicon-coated carbon nanotubes like a layer of drinking straws. Photo credit: Horia Varlan

Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a new flexible nano-scaffold for rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that could help make cell phone and electric car batteries last longer.

The research, published online in Advanced Materials, shows the potential of manufactured sheets of aligned carbon nanotubes coated with silicon, a material with a much higher energy storage capacity than the graphite composites typically used.
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A supercapacitor to match lead-acid

Dan Li's team has developed a graphene supercapacitor.

Dan Li’s team is researching graphene supercapacitors. Photo credit: Monash University

Monash University researchers have brought next generation energy storage closer with an engineering first: a graphene-based device that is compact yet lasts as long as a conventional battery.
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