Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Battery Than Can Produce Utility-Scale Power

Think of an aluminum plant running in reverse, generating electricity instead of consuming it.

That's the concept behind a new stationary battery large enough to produce utility-scale power, a technology being developed by MIT Professor David Sadoway.

The battery produces power by making a sandwich out of 2 layers of liquid metal alloy with a layer of a salt in between, and then placing the entire sandwich in an electrolyte. Ions flow from one metal layer through the electrolyte to the other layer, generating electricity. The whole system is maintained at 700° C.

Sadoway's project has already received a grant of nearly $7 million over 5 years from the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E. Soon after that, the French oil company Total announced a $4-million research agreement with MIT to jointly develop a smaller version of the battery.

In its press release announcing the grant for the battery (along with names of other grant recipients), ARPA-E said:
If successful, this battery technology could revolutionize the way electricity is used and produced on the grid...

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