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A New Chemistry For Energy Storage
Posted on November 11th, 2016 by Chris Walker in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence
Last time we looked at the current limitations of battery technology. Although there has been significant progress made in recent years, driven largely by the automotive industry, batteries still remain a technology which is holding back progress in a range of areas.
From unmanned flight and electric cars, to mobile phones and wearable technology, limitations in battery technology is often what gets in the way of new ideas being realised.
Many believe that the future of energy storage will have to take on an entirely new chemistry and physical form. For a lot of researchers, lithium-ion just doesn’t look like it has the potential to keep up.
But what are the alternatives? There’s certainly no real contenders in the marketplace yet and it could be a while before there are. But what are some of the potential technologies that could embody the next step in energy storage technology?
SolidEnergy Systems, a start-up spun out of MIT in 2012, has developed a lithium-metal battery which gives a much higher energy density than today’s lithium-ion batteries.
It’s taken more than a decade to get the technology to the point it’s at today, with researchers battling against volatility, difficulties with recharging and the tendency for lithium-metal batteries to overheat and burst into flame.
But Lithium-metal batteries now look like they could be a serious replacement for current lithium-ion technology. The team are working to an aggressive schedule with the hope of making this technology commercially available next year.
Much has been made of the potential impact of graphene on technology today. Batteries and energy storage haven’t escaped the hype. There have been several high profile launches of new graphene battery technology over the last year or so. But there’s still a lot of mystery around the technology too.
Graphene batteries are said to charge at a rate between ten and twenty times faster than Lithium-Ion batteries, and according to some reports will soon be ready for mass production.
But there’s some controversy over potential overstated claims about the technology. A Spanish company introduced a graphene battery designed to power electric vehicles earlier this year, which has been called Grabat. But after impressive initial reports on the capability of the battery, there has been some doubt about the maturity of the technology.
Time will tell just how close graphene batteries are to becoming a reality. But there are plenty of companies around the world trying to develop the technology into something stable and ready for mass production.
If one thing is for sure it’s that energy storage technology won’t stand still. With an ever increasing demand, there’s considerable pressure to improve energy density and decrease recharging times. Lithium-ion batteries have seen significant improvement over recent years, and it may well have quite a few more years left in it yet.
All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.
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