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

  • Nanotechnology can help clean up oil spills with super-absorbant carbon nanotube sponges
  • Ford GT supercar in production at Markham's Multimatic plant
  • Researchers studied successful manufacturers for lessons for the future
  • Pressure Used to Control Properties of Graphene Transistors
  • SpaceX launches Immarsat 5 F4: continuing the Elon Musk tradition of innovation with commercial payback
  • Massive turnaround at Irving refinery a boost for local economy
  • Toronto Hydro testing underwater energy storage system for backup power
  • Samsung wind farm breaks ground in SW Ontario
  • Ontario Local Food Bill hailed by farm/food groups
  • Vehicle sales, mainly light trucks, continued to soar in January
  • Five Barrels of Water Produced Per Barrel of Oil
  • Canada Goose doubles production capacity with new Toronto plant
  • Bombardier announces firm CSeries orders from Russia, Gulf Air
  • Economy showed mix of strength (exports), weakness (investment) in Q3
  • Oxygen from moondust? The European Space Agency is working on an "breathable air" plants for moon bases
  • Manufacturing sales up in September but shadow of Trump looms over Canada
  • Canada's economy rebounds with stronger manufacturing, construction
  • World's largest gate valves will operate in Texas water pipeline
  • Final testing of Bombardier's C Series to begin
  • Expect record-high auto sales in 2015: Scotiabank
Scroll to Top