MIT Team’s Liquid Metal Batteries Could Provide Huge Boost For Clean Power

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen February 20, 2013 0
A new type of battery being developed by group of former MIT engineers involves liquidized power cells that can hold a charge more efficiently and for much longer.
A new type of battery being developed by group of former MIT engineers involves liquidized power cells that can hold a charge more efficiently and for much longer.

One of the biggest hurdles facing the green power industry is the creation of a quality battery capable of holding a charge received from a renewable energy technology source. Products such as lithium-ion batteries have been on the market for some time, but these are not the most efficient options and, as such, researchers have continued to search for this elusive goal.

Now, a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may be working on a new form of batteries that could fundamentally change the U.S. energy market. Known as grid-scale liquid batteries, this technology, reports green news source Treehugger, could offer electricity providers a simple way to store power. However, the company behind the project, known as Ambri, acknowledged in an interview with the MIT Technology Review that some hurdles remain before the initiative is commercially viable. 

A liquid metal battery works by heating up and melting power cells. The advantage here, Ambri told the source, is that a liquid conductor retains is ability to hold a charge for far longer than a traditional solid-state cell. While still in the experiential phase, this technology would be beneficial because the U.S. power industry doesn't have a capability quite like it.

"The ability to bring in stored power when needed would mean that some of those fossil-fuel power plants could be closed and new ones wouldn't have to be built. But so far we have no good all-purpose way to store energy for the grid," Martin LaMonica wrote for the Technology Review on February 18.

With its aging electrical infrastructure, the United States could benefit greatly from this kind of technology. Liquid metal batteries would enable towns and cities to store power in a more economically viable way, which could reduce energy consumption on fossil fuels and help them become greener communities.

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