A USC research team developed an air-breathing battery that uses the chemical energy generated by the oxidation of iron plates. Currently, these batteries have the capacity to store between eight and 24 hours’ worth of energy (patent pending). The idea of iron-air batteries is not new, but a competing chemical reaction of hydrogen generations also takes place in these types of batteries, sucking away about half the battery’s energy, thereby making them too inefficient to be useful. The USC team found a way to reduce the energy loss down to 4%, making their iron-air batteries 10 times more efficient.
An important potential application of this technology is solar and wind power. Solar power works great on clear days and wind power on windy days, but what to do on cloudy and calm days? Solar and wind power plants need an effective way of storing large amounts of energy. Batteries have not typically been a viable solution for utilities. Regular batteries are not rechargeable and lithium-ion batteries, which are rechargeable, are expensive. Iron-air batteries may be a solution – they are rechargeable and they cost a tenth as much as lithium-ion batteries.
For more information about this technology, go here.