The CUNY Energy Institute has built its “fame” on the production of batteries that are safe, non-toxic, and reliable but still have a reasonable price. Now the company has poured all that know-how into a prototype zinc anode battery system in an attempt to surpass nickel cadmium batteries or make lead-acid ones redundant.
However, one major obstacle in the way of this achievement is the dendrite formation that comes with the zinc. Crystalline structures that shortcut batteries, dendrites can be fought against with an advanced battery management system (BMS) that manages the charge/discharge protocol and can be found in a flow-assisted zinc anode battery.
The researchers from CUNY mounted a 36 kilowatt-hour rechargeable battery system in the basement of Steinman Hall on The City College of New York campus. Its goal? To prove, among others, how a high demand of electricity can be eased off and how to store energy from the grid through 36 individual one kWh nickel-zinc flow-assisted cells cobbled together and operated by the BMS.
Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee, director of the CUNY Energy Institute is so proud of them that it calls the system a “game changer for the electric grid.” And he has reason to: the batteries last for more than 5,000 – 10,000 charge cycles, meaning more than 10 years. During this time, they charge when there is little demand (like at night) and help support power usage at peak times. When the installation will count 200 kWh to be installed later this year, 30% of Steinman Hall’s peak-demand power will be powered by the system and at least $6,000 will be saved.
So, it’s no wonder Dr Banerjee sees the system as a God-sent gift. For the “cheap, non-toxic materials that are inherently safe,” he dreams of a flourishing future that involves industrial facilities, commercial properties, backup power for server farms and very large starter motors, not to mention grid support. For 200 kWh in a year, not accepting would be a bad idea! Future plans include a pilot manufacturing facility nearby City College so that the batteries can be sold by this year’s fall.