Molten Salt Batteries, the next level to Solar and Wind Power Industry

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A novel innovation of battery made out of molten metal was developed by MIT. Its vision is to cater the expanding solar and wind generation. The said battery is designed to store energy on the electric grid. The basic set up or configuration of this high-capacity battery is composed of two dissimilar molten metals as electrodes, separated with a molten salt electrolyte.

The electrodes are made up of low-cost Earth abundant materials but, without the severe mechanical degradation or corrosion, unlike the usual subsequent effects on common solid batteries.

MIT researchers have already demonstrated a low-cost prototype for production with future plans of testing in small-scale intermittent sources such solar and wind.

Generally, energy technology do better in one measure to another. Fast delivery of energy with capacitor is cheap while, massive storage is expensive.  However, the unusual feature of the said battery is capable of both. It can store a large amount of energy that could even last through a black out and could deliver instantly energy by demand, when the sun is temporarily blocked by a cloud in solar generation.

Unlike pumped hydro, water is stored on a reservoir if demand is low, the battery defeated its high initial capital investment and immobility of installation. The said technology can be installed almost anywhere without the constraints of location compared to pumped hydro.

Ambri (formerly Liquid Metal Battery Corporation), Dr. Donald Sadoway’s (the founder of research at MIT)  legacy in Marlborough, Massachusetts has now built a manufacturing plant for the said battery. However, the said technology is not there yet for the market.  The refinement of a low-cost high temperature seals are not perfected yet and remains, the last engineering challenge for the team at Ambri. Once the seal is developed, its production will begin.

“It was really cool” said Dr. Sadoway after the results from their experiments in MIT. He believes there is still a lot to discover in this field.

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