Grid-scale electricity storage solution from New York startup

A new development in the ongoing quest for a grid-scale electricity storage system was reported in Scientific American. Invented by a New York City-based startup,  Urban Electric, the promising new development uses old technology—the zinc anode rechargeable battery—but adds a relatively simple innovation.

According to the head of Urban Electric, chemical engineer Sanjoy Banerjee, the company set out to create a “massive rechargeable Duracell,” because such disposable batteries, using zinc and manganese and other inexpensive materials are the “lowest cost battery” possible.

 

 

The problem with zinc in rechargeable batteries is that it develops flaws that, over a short number of recharge cycles, clog the battery and quickly choke it off. The challenge was therefore to find a way to use zinc but eliminate the clogging. They found that way to prevent the degradation of the battery: it is flow. By circulating water around the battery components, they are able to prevent the formation of dendrites—the branch-like growths that form on the zinc electrode and kill the typical alkaline battery after a few hundred cycles. The water is circulated by means of an array of tiny propellers.

So far, the company says it has run the batteries over 3,000 cycles of two hours’ charging and two hours’ discharging. The goal is to reach 10,000 cycles or more.

The cost, too, could be a breakthrough. Urban Electric Power reportedly estimates that its grid-scale batteries can store electricity at a rate of $91 per kilowatt hour. Anything below $100 per kilowatt hour is considered significant in the energy storage industry.

The company says its zinc rechargeable battery technology is safe and non-toxic, using 100 per cent recyclable materials with no lead or other heavy metals. The prototype has been developed with support from the US Department of Energy Advanced Research Project’s Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The design is simple enough that the batteries can be assembled using just regular restaurant kitchen pasta-making equipment, such as rollers and stirrers.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Pembina set for biggest expansion in its history
  • BMW unveils i3, the electric car of the future
  • GE investment in Welland "Brilliant Factory" to bring 220 jobs
  • Canada keeping up pressure on US for Keystone XL approval
  • Helicopter flight simulator to train offshore rig pilots in Newfoundland
  • Fully solar powered vehicle: an RV that runs without fuel or charging stations?
  • Google's self-driving cars revealed to media for first time
  • Trade deficit increased in May on weaker exports
  • First drone crash with a commercial aircraft in Canada triggers safety review and possible new rules
  • Petronas to spend $16 billion to export Western Canadian LNG
  • French aerospace companies to set up shop in Montreal
  • Researchers Discover Surprising Role for Water in Energy Storage
  • Ontario Local Food Bill hailed by farm/food groups
  • Will Ukraine be Canada's next big oil market?
  • Artificial leaf converts sunlight, water to fuel
  • Wind capacity reaches 82,183 megawatts in US, enough to power 24 million homes
  • Wood-based battery the next energy storage solution?
  • De Beers new diamond mine in far north among world's largest
  • Tesla is now the number one valued carmaker in America, jumping ahead of GM
  • NASA Tests 3D Printed Rocket Part
Scroll to Top