By Dr. Cameron Chai
MetILs, a new range of liquid salt electrolytes, has been developed by researchers from Sandia National Laboratories.
Sandia researchers have discovered a new family of liquid salt electrolytes that could lead to batteries with three times greater energy density than other available storage technologies. The MetILs are, from left to right: copper-based compound, cobalt-based compound, manganese-based compound, iron-based compound, nickel-based compound, and vanadium-based compound.
The materials canlead to next generation storage battery technology that economically stores three times higher energy than existing batteries.
Sandia team has been conducting research on innovative methods to develop a more flexible, reliable and cost-effective electric grid with enhanced energy storage. MetILs are seen as potential battery chemistry and helps to make significant advancements in battery technology for intermittent renewable energy sources and replace current lithium-ion and lead-acid and batteries. The lithium-ion batteries are compact and lightweight but they are not cost-effective and have degradation issues. Hence, their utilization is limited in stationary and high-end application into the nation’s electric grid.
A research team led by Travis Anderson, an inorganic chemist and researcher, develops new flow batteries to solve these issues. A flow battery impels a solution, consisting of free-floating metal ions that are dissolved in an electrolyte, from a peripheral tank via an electrochemical cell for conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy. Anderson stated that the flow batteries can maintain over 14,000 cycles in the laboratory, which is equivalent to over 20 years of energy storage. But, the flow battery systems have larger size and can cost the same as lithium-ion batteries.
Researchers aim to develop flow batteries that are cheaper and smaller in size, while enhancing the storage capacity for a particular energy density. The materials used in flow batteries are moderately toxic and the aqueous solution in the batteries restricts the quantity of material that can be dissolved and amount of energy that can be stored. The team works to solve these issues by eliminating the use of water. The research resulted in the development of MetILs, a new family of metal-based ionic liquids that are non-toxic and inexpensive.