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Coming, a battery to store solar, wind power

Posted on Feb 02 2014 | IANS

New York, Feb 2 : Won't it be great if we could store solar and wind energies to use at our convenience later? That dream may soon come true.

A new battery designed by researchers at Harvard University can store solar and wind power - that too at a reduced cost.

The prototype battery stores energy in liquid, organic molecules.

"One weakness of this particular battery is the bromine and hydrobromic acid used on the cathode side. Because these substances are corrosive, they could pose an environmental threat," said team leader Michael Aziz from Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Aziz said he hopes to find a replacement for bromine in the future.

"So far, we've seen no sign of degradation after more than 100 cycles, but commercial applications require thousands of cycles," Aziz added.

The device is a flow battery, which holds energy in tanks of liquid chemicals that can be scaled up or down.

The actual battery cell, which converts the chemical energy into electricity, is held separately.

That means the amount of storage can expand without also increasing the device's wattage capacity.

Engineers developed flow batteries decades ago, but they have typically used expensive metals like vanadium.

The Harvard team used organic molecules called quinines - found in plants - and dissolved it in water for the anode side of the battery, said the report published in the journal Nature.

If things go well, the battery may come in the market in a few years.

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