The promise of seabed storage

hat offshore energy storage systems could be used alongside the wind farms and tidal and wave arrays taking shape off our coasts. Photo credit: MIT

With renewable energy increasingly being located at sea, its worth asking what offshore energy storage systems could be used alongside the wind farms and tidal and wave arrays. Photo credit: MIT

The renewable energy storage concept announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earlier this year is quite literally a load of balls. Aimed at storing excess power from offshore wind farms, says MIT: “The key to this concept is the placement of huge concrete spheres on the seafloor under the turbines.
Read more →

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.
Read more →

2013 MIT Energy Conference highlights

Entitled ‘From Idea to Impact – Collaborating to Meet Global Energy Challenges’, the Eighth MIT Energy Conference is scheduled to take place on March 1 and 2. Panel
 topics include ‘Utility of the Future’, ‘From Coal to Gas – The Emerging Reality of Fossil Generation’, ‘Breaking the Climate Stalemate’ and ‘Energy Innovation for Development’.

The discussions will carry forward to a Friday 
Night Energy Showcase at the 
Boston Park Plaza Castle, a free exhibit of innovative and breakthrough energy technologies from start-up companies and academic research.

New solar storage possibilities from MIT

Scientists at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have produced modified carbon nanotubes that can store solar energy indefinitely after being charged up by sunlight, says the university.

Although nano materials that store sunlight in chemical bonds have been produced before, researchers on this project say that the new material, which is made using carbon nanotubes in combination with a compound called azobenzene, has a much higher energy density than earlier solutions. In fact the energy density of this solutions is comparable to that of lithium-ion batteries.

Energy storage will “topple dictators”

MIT professor Donald Sadoway is already something of a legend thanks to his ground-breaking research on liquid metal batteries and his barnstorming presentations promoting the technology as the future of energy storage.

But his profile, and that of energy storage in general, can only have been enhanced when he went head-to-head with faux right-wing blow-hard, Stephen Colbert, on Comedy Central’s hit showThe Colbert Report.

Sadoway did a great job explaining the importance of energy storage in allowing renewables to play a bigger part in America’s grid system and thus reduce the country’s reliance on oil as a strategic resource, receiving plenty of applause from an enthusiastic studio audience when he underlined how this could promote world peace.

Responding to criticism that he has received Department of Energy money, Sadoway noted that, unlike Solyndra, the famously defunct solar developer, his MIT spin-out was engaged in basic research and thus a more worthy recipient of the taxpayer’s largesse. Needless to say, the appearance attracted a lot of media attention, and Sadoway found himself the toast of energy storage-savvy Tweeters.

Lithium-air batteries given boost at Berkeley

First proposed in the 1970s, lithium-air batteries have huge potential due to their high energy density, but face many technical obstacles before they can become a commercial reality. One such obstacle is an exact understanding of how lithium and oxygen react. Now MIT researchers have developed a tool that can examine the chemistry that could help to produce technology with up to four times the capacity of current lithium-ion batteries.

The technique to view the lithium-oxygen reactions directly utilises high-intensity X-ray illumination at the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.