Air-Breathing battery development increases storage capacity with greater longevity at a fraction of the cost of other batteries.

 

Air Breathing battery 560 1

A team of researchers from MIT have developed an air-breathing battery capable of storing electricity with greater longevity and at a fraction of the cost of other energy sources. The development solves intermittency issues that often keep power sources from connecting to the grid.

Yet-Ming Chiang, Kyocera Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT stated that the battery “inhales and exhales” oxygen, which balances the charge. “Breathing” in the oxygen causes the anode to discharge electrons to an external circuit, while releasing that oxygen recharges the battery by returning electrons to the anode.

The overall cost of the battery is 1/30th of the cost of lithium-ion batteries. At this rate, a larger system utilizing these batteries could store solar and wind power for approximately $20-30 per kilowatt hour, while competing batteries offer the energy density needed but cost upwards of $100 per kilowatt hour.

Chiang stated, “This meant maybe we weren’t focusing on the right thing, with an ever-increasing chemical cost in pursuit of high energy density. We said, ‘If we want energy storage at the terawatt scale, we have to use truly abundant materials.’” This pursuit led them to sulfur, which is easily accessible. The next step was locating a stable but inexpensive liquid for the cathode.

MIT Air Breathing Battery Discharging 889x677 560 1

 

Researchers experimented with potassium permanganate, knowing that utilizing it as a cathode material, the reaction would discharge electricity. However, the process is typically impossible, so positive results were not anticipated. Continuing with the experiment, research author Zheng Li, a postdoc at MIT at the time, stumbled upon a discovery. While the reaction was not reversible, an oxygen reaction in the cathode caused the battery to recharge.

Describing the moment, Chiang remarked on his surprise at Li’s discovery. “I said, ‘Wait, you figured out a rechargeable chemistry using sulfur that does not require a cathode compound?’ That was the ah-ha moment.”

Chiang also stated that systems utilizing such batteries stand to compete with pumped hydroelectric storage systems. These systems provide much of the energy throughout the world. “The energy density of a flow battery like this is more than 500 times higher than pumped hydroelectric storage. It’s also so much more compact so that you can imagine putting it anywhere you have renewable generation.”

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • First new Canadian refinery in 30 years now on track for 2017
  • Manufacturing output grew again in August
  • Pipelines safer than rail or truck for oil: report
  • In a massive victory for the hydrogen vs. electric battery debate, the Toyota Mirai broke the world record for driving on one fill of hydrogen with 623 miles (1,003 km) in late May.
    Hydrogen Mileage World Record – Toyota Mirai Breaks Through: 623 miles or 1,003 km "Victory for Hydrogen vs. Electric"
  • Slight upturn in Canada's manufacturing in June
  • Government pledges continued support as National Mining Week begins
  • First Energy Island to Provide Electricity for 3 Million Households
  • Slower growth, need for new markets challenge Canada's oil producers
  • Scientists use lab-grown crystals to create whiter LED light
  • Propane suppliers condemn Ontario government's support of natural gas expansion
  • Government wants to know what chemicals are used in fracking
  • Manufacturing grew in August; oil industry to lose $2.1 billion in 2015
  • Bombardier to hit business jet targets: aiming for US$8.5 billion annually by 2020
  • GPS III set to launch December 18: U.S. Air Force to launch via Space X Falcon 9 paylod; will be harder to jam, more secure and accurate
  • Oil Industry News: Oil Companies Shedding Assets
  • Bombardier has to delay CSeries first test flight again
  • Canadian car sales break record amid concern about investment in the industry
  • SpaceX-1 Launches Falcon 9
  • Hopes high for Bombardier CSeries breakthrough at Farnborough Airshow
  • Artificial pancreas would reduce need for self-care by diabetics, improve insulin delivery
Scroll to Top