Claim of new efficiency milestone in a new solar battery

From the OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

New design brings world’s first solar battery to performance milestone
Sunlight makes the new ‘aqueous solar flow’ battery 20 percent more efficient than today’s lithium-iodine batteries

solar-flow-battery

COLUMBUS, Ohio–After debuting the world’s first solar air battery last fall, researchers at The Ohio State University have now reached a new milestone.

In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report that their patent-pending design–which combines a solar cell and a battery into a single device–now achieves a 20 percent energy savings over traditional lithium-iodine batteries.

The 20 percent comes from sunlight, which is captured by a unique solar panel on top of the battery, explained Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.

The solar panel is now a solid sheet, rather than a mesh as in the previous design. Another key difference comes from the use of a water-based electrolyte inside the battery.

Because water circulates inside it, the new design belongs to an emerging class of batteries called aqueous flow batteries.

“The truly important innovation here is that we’ve successfully demonstrated aqueous flow inside our solar battery,” Wu said.

As such, it is the first aqueous flow battery with solar capability. Or, as Wu and his team have dubbed it, the first “aqueous solar flow battery.”

“It’s also totally compatible with current battery technology, very easy to integrate with existing technology, environmentally friendly and easy to maintain,” he added.

Researchers around the world are working to develop aqueous flow batteries because they could theoretically provide affordable power grid-level energy storage someday.

The solar flow battery could thus bridge a gap between today’s energy grid and sources of renewable energy.

“This solar flow battery design can potentially be applied for grid-scale solar energy conversion and storage, as well as producing ‘electrolyte fuels’ that might be used to power future electric vehicles,” said Mingzhe Yu, lead author of the paper and a doctoral student at Ohio State.

Previously, Yu designed the solar panel out of titanium mesh, so that air could pass through to the battery. But the new aqueous flow battery doesn’t need air to function, so the solar panel is now a solid sheet.

The solar panel is called a dye-sensitized solar cell, because the researchers use a red dye to tune the wavelength of light it captures and converts to electrons. Those electrons then supplement the voltage stored in the lithium-anode portion of the solar battery.

Something has to carry electrons from the solar cell into the battery, however, and that’s where the electrolyte comes in. A liquid electrolyte is typically part salt, part solvent; previously, the researchers used the salt lithium perchlorate mixed with the organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide. Now they are using lithium iodide as the salt, and water as the solvent. (Water is an inorganic solvent, and an eco-friendly one. And lithium iodide offers a high-energy storage capacity with low cost.)

In tests, the researchers compared the solar flow battery’s performance to that of a typical lithium-iodine battery. They charged and discharged the batteries 25 times. Each time, both batteries discharged around 3.3 volts.

The difference was that the solar flow battery could produce the same output with less charging. The typical battery had to be charged to 3.6 volts to discharge 3.3 volts. The solar flow battery was charged to only 2.9 volts, because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent.

The project is still ongoing, and the solar flow design will undoubtedly evolve again as the researchers try to make the battery more efficient.

Doctoral student and study co-author Billy McCulloch said that there are many different directions the research could take.

“We hope to motivate the research community to further develop this technology into a practical renewable energy solution,” he added.

The team’s ultimate goal is to boost the solar cell’s contribution to the battery past its current 20 percent–maybe even to 100 percent.

“That’s our next step,” Wu said, “to really achieve a fully solar-chargeable battery.”

###

Aqueous Lithium-Iodine Solar Flow Battery for the Simultaneous Conversion and Storage of Solar Energy.

Yu M, McCulloch WD, Beauchamp DR, Huang Z, Ren X, Wu Y.

Abstract

Integrating both photoelectric-conversion and energy-storage functions into one device allows for the more efficient solar energy usage. Here we demonstrate the concept of an aqueous lithium-iodine (Li-I) solar flow battery (SFB) by incorporation of a built-in dye-sensitized TiO2 photoelectrode in a Li-I redox flow battery via linkage of an I3(-)/I(-) based catholyte, for the simultaneous conversion and storage of solar energy. During the photoassisted charging process, I(-) ions are photoelectrochemically oxidized to I3(-), harvesting solar energy and storing it as chemical energy. The Li-I SFB can be charged at a voltage of 2.90 V under 1 sun AM 1.5 illumination, which is lower than its discharging voltage of 3.30 V. The charging voltage reduction translates to energy savings of close to 20% compared to conventional Li-I batteries. This concept also serves as a guiding design that can be extended to other metal-redox flow battery systems.

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134 thoughts on “Claim of new efficiency milestone in a new solar battery

  1. I’m not seeing any sizes mentioned. What’s the smallest one of these batteries that has any practical use?

  2. Swell. Solar power is intermittent and non-dischargable. That is why it needs batteries. So now these people come up with a battery, which because of it’s charging, is intermittent and non-dischargable.

    Environmental science marches forward.

    • I know these are big ifs, but if a greatly scaled up and still economical version of this battery could be developed that could be charged by solar cells during the day and release its charge at night or during cloudy periods, would it not be useful?

      • Yes and no. For places with no reliable electricity generation – ie fossil fuelled – then yes, could be. Otherwise I doubt it is cheaper than coal or gas generation.

  3. ‘Claim of new efficiency milstone in a new solar batter’
    Headline may need a couple of letters.

    • Ok, being skeptical is one thing, but a knee jerk and reflexive dislike of something of which little is known betrays a deeper mind set that honest and unbiased skepticism.
      Give it a chance.
      Some of these comments sound like:
      “I hate solar because it is no good, and even if it was good I still would not like it, and trying to fix something which is no good and which I do not like is stupid.”

      • at Menicholas ; keep reading the analytic comments below, me thinks you are being hoodwinked by cAGW again.

      • HUH?
        There is not analysis. Partly because the article is thin on details. Mostly just reflexive and offhanded scorn.
        And I have never for even a day been thusly hoodwinked by “cAGW”.
        I am not one of those who was originally a believer…I knew CAGW was malarkey from the get go…if only because the claims were too broad, and made long before sufficient time had passed to be sure of anything.
        I studied physical geography and climatology and meteorology in college in the early to mid eighties, along with historical geology…etc, so was well aware of a lot of information that directly contradicted the claims being made by Hansen and his gang.
        I will say that my outrage has been recently turbocharged and reinvigorated, not the least of which reason is finding out about all of the so called “adjustments” and other manipulations of the historical climate data.
        Imagine learning that Mann was denying that there was ever a MWP or LIA or RWP…when I had personally given presentations on these topics to a room full of other students?

      • There is very little information on what the increased efficiency actually is due to. I see solar panels as an economic ‘millstone’, if they can’t sell in the free market without subsidies they are not worth using, with the possible exception of isolated non-grid-access areas.

      • I agree Menicholas, this at first glance appears to have some merit for further development. If it passes the test of economic feasibility we commoners might see an alternative to paying the man for our energy.
        The only thing that bothers me is a sort of deja vu from reading so many Popular Science articles and getting excited about something that I never heard of again. Like everything else about future tech, only time will tell…

      • This release is so skinny on technical details ( and photos) as to be deemed potentially 100% drivel. Let the world know when it is actually working.in a practical sense, No need to talk yet, back to the lab BEFORE you get your next grant please.

      • Menicholas
        August 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

        Yeah, I’ll second that – but only 20 years earlier – enjoy your comments and open mind. Global Warming is real … just like Global Cooling. Questions are why, how much and when? IMHO we don’t know yet. But I do enjoy reading people’s opinions.

        Thanks to you and all the others posting here.

        (Solar does work for some applications – I have at least a dozen panels of varying size from a couple of centimetres in to a couple of metres in length. But I wouldn’t try to power my house where I live.)

      • I hate solar because it appears that no one is capable of making anything less that hideous. On houses it is always a disgusting bodge on the roof and as for solar “parks” it is only accepted thanks to new speak Orwellian style conditioning of a gullible public.

  4. “The difference was that the solar flow battery could produce the same output with less charging. The typical battery had to be charged to 3.6 volts to discharge 3.3 volts. The solar flow battery was charged to only 2.9 volts, because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent.”

    Another article that really doesn’t make any sense. You can’t discharge more energy than you charged? That energy had to come from somewhere. So are they saying they charged from one source and then include the flow off the solar panel during the discharge? If so, how does that change the battery’s efficiency?

    • I caught that, too. How does the efficiency waver when the roughly 20% return of name plate capacity comes into play?

      I mean, isn’t the whole point of a solar-connected battery to provide power when the solar array can’t?

    • They are clearly discounting the contribution of solar as free

      because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent

      You seldom see such an abuse of simple math right out in the open as this.
      If this was stated as part of an advertisement for financial investments, they would be in jail already.

    • I’m also wondering-how many applications are there for batteries exposed to sunlight, i.e.: The Weather.??

      • My Davis Vantage Pro weather station could use one. It has a lithium non-rechargable battery, a PV cell that looks atrocious because the plastic coating is badly damaged by UV (duh) but still works fine, and a couple “super caps” to hold the solar charge.

    • Do you get the idea that you are reading a teenager’s 4-H club dissertation, on how to feed your pet New Zealand white rabbit, for a dollar a month.

      This “paper” has to be about as juvenile as anything I have ever read. Even if it is factual and does everything they say; this purports to originate from Ohio State University. It’s supposed to be arevelation of totally new battery technology, and they write like that ??

      Remind me to not send my son to OSU.

      • Indeed. The abstract doesn’t appear to say much. At a minimum they should compare the “savings” relative to just taking the electrical output of a PV and using that to charge a conventional battery. Confusing voltage with power/energy doesn’t help. What this appears to be is a battery that can be dual charged from both solar and regular electrical power sources.

    • Cold Fusion 2.0, they rushed out a press release when they should be bracing for international ridicule.

  5. I don’t understand the reference to charging to a voltage and then using that figure as an indication of the energy stored. When I charge my batteries they are charged to a voltage level but the indication of capacity is shown using the amount of current consumed in the charge process, an example my charger’s screen would show the number of milliamp hours used to charge the battery. You need both voltage and current in order to state the capacity of a battery. I hope that this was the reporter’s mistake and not the actual experiment.

    • Lots of things here, yes. Can’t tell the actual capacity, just the voltage – which as you note is useless (except for knowing how many you need to connect in series).

      Also – “eco-friendly”? Yes, water is eco-friendly – lithium iodide is NOT, nor is solid lithium. Without reading the paper, I’m going to assume the electrolyte circulation is thermal, not mechanical – otherwise, what is the power required to circulate it?

      Research is not bad, mind you. But this is a long way from being “there”…

      • “water is eco-friendly – lithium iodide is NOT”
        That bears repeating. We got smacked by the IL EPA for washing leaked lithium bromide down the drains in our refrigeration plant which drained (at that time) into the campus lake (built to provide absorption cooling water). Can’t remember how much, but the fine was pretty stiff.

    • To voltage of a battery is independent of the amount of charge stored.
      It is the sum of the two half cell voltages, which is a physical property of the atoms used in the battery.
      Have not researched or even heard of these new aqueous ones, maybe they work differently.
      Capacitors are completely different than batteries…they can be charged to a range of voltages.

      • I fail to see how the battery in my truck isn’t an aqueous battery. After all, between the everything is water. With a little sulfuric acid tossed in as the ‘salt.’

  6. [Snip. Fake screen name for beckleybud, Edward Richardson, David Socrates, Tracton, pyromancer, and at least a dozen other sockpuppet names. ~mod.]

    • “The solar panel is now a solid sheet, rather than a mesh as in the previous design. Another key difference comes from the use of a water-based electrolyte inside the battery. Because water circulates inside it, the new design belongs to an emerging class of batteries called aqueous flow batteries.”

      So, if I am reading this right, this new-and-improved design is using actual liquid water inside of a sealed case. So, I would assume that this solar cell/battery combination should not be used anywhere that they could freeze, or get too hot, as this could fracture the sealed case (or the internal separator) and cause the whole assembly to catch on fire from the lithium anode reacting to air. I guess that does improve efficiency, as both the solar cell and the battery burn up at the same time.

  7. What happens when it’s freezing outside? Will the energy needed to keep the water from freezing be greater than the battery output?

  8. There is a typo in the headline.

    Claim of new efficiency milstone in a new solar battery

    that has me wondering if the missing letter is an l or an e…

  9. Nobody talks about costs here.
    20 percent more efficient by probably 50% more costs?
    This makes already inefficient solar power a bit more inefficient… way off.

    • Talk of cost is premature.
      One of the biggest problems with energy storage is the fact that batteries have proven to be intractably resistant to increasing capacity. Energy density is everything, and is why gas powered cars can go 400-500 miles, even with a giant and heavy engine being lugged around everywhere.
      Cheap and efficient and long lasting and energy dense batteries would be a complete game changer for more things that just solar.

      • That type of battery will not be a game changer for solar. If you need 100 panels to provide a needed capacity, that’s good for about 6-8 hours a day. So right off the bat you need 3-4 times as many panels, then what if it’s cloudy for 4 days? Then it’s 4 times that number. So now we’re at 1200-1600 panels. Think that would be economical?

      • It is already economical in some situations.
        The cheaper solar gets, the more potential situations might find it to be cost effective. Whether or not this particular improvement, if it even is one, helps anyone or not is really tangential to the point about improvements in general.
        I cannot tell much from this article, but I would rather see money being spent on hiring tinkerers and inventers to try and invent better solutions and improvements in essential gadgetry, than paying guys for sitting around, doing the scientific equivalent of navel gazing, with computer models, or for performing elaborate hand waving and guesswork theorizing about every gloomy scenario for future apocalypses that pops into anyone’s head.

      • Where is what economical, certainly not solar storage and not solar PV, not without subsidies and utility companies forced to buy electricity for more than they can make it for. There is only one good Co2 free source of electricity and that is molten salt reactors. Take a look at Thorcon, they will be the first to commercialize.

      • “Assuming efficient, evidence based regulation, ThorCon can produce reliable, carbon free, electricity at between 3 and 5 cents per kWh depending on scale.”

        Well, there you go. Seems simple enough to get NRC and EPA to use evidence based regulation. What could go wrong?

      • Correct – and my 2000 Golf diesel w/ 5 spd routinely did 800 mi on a tank. Energy density! (and tank volume)

  10. Flow batteries are not new. There are several chemistries. Energy is stored in the electrolyte rather than the electrodes. Low efficiency dye sensitized solar PV is not new. Called Gretzel cells after the inventor. This just puts them together. PR on Very early stage research.

    • This may be a milestone.
      This may be a millstone.
      Time – and much better detail – will probably tell.

      Enjoy Sunday.

      Auto

  11. Need to see evaluation of the separate efficiencies of solar collection and energy storage/recovery to compare with alternative solar conversion alternatives with separate energy storage systems.

    • Better than that would be if they could incorporate this tech into cheap solar refrigeration for third world medical and food storage applications. Even coolers for dwellings might be possible.

    • So physical chemists and materials scientists working on improving energy storage are now lumped in with climate scientists, and their efforts are a waste of time before they even start?

      • No, just that there really is no new technology. Storage capacity of batteries has reached its limit.
        The final solution is to make bigger batteries for storage. It is easier to get get government grants for research when you let them think that battery storage still has research potential. And will save the environment, just call it Green.There is no new chemistry that we are unaware of. They have to stop ignoring the nuclear option.

  12. the researchers used the salt lithium perchlorate mixed with the organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide.

    lithium perchlorate is a most excellent oxidizer. One of the important features of batteries is they shouldn’t go BOOM when shorted out, when they catch on fire, etc.

    That highlights one of the biggest problems with increasing energy density in batteries. Bad outcomes get harder to control as the energy density approaches that of a high explosive…

  13. It is far better to use the chlorophyll to cellulose energy storage method than any other.

    Sunlight + CO2 -> Trees and grasses -> cellulose -> Long term storage -> Combustion -> High Quality Energy
    While do for infinity;

    How arrogant is man to think that he can out do a tree and wood.

    ———————————————————————–

    Or… SuperNova -> nucleosynthesis -> unranium -> fission -> high quality energy

    ————————————————————————

    Batteries is a weak substitute for cellulose.

    • Chlorophyll to gasoline might be better, huh?
      How arrogant is man to think that everything worth inventing has already been thought of?

      • Ok. I am ok with that. I’d be happier with paraffin if we are conjuring “better-than-wood”. Paraffin (heavier diesel) with a melting temperature of 40C so it can be handled as a solid, and a liquid with a little heat.

        Wood is really hard to beat.

      • I really do not know what to make of these “wood” comments.
        Solar is used for heat and for electricity. For direct heating, I am not going to be getting any wood burning stoves or boilers I do not think. Wood is bulky and dirty and down here in Florida it is not worth having something so bulky that is used several times a year but the rest of the time wood just be in the way.
        And as a power source for everything besides heat that electricity is good for, wood is nearly useless. So I am not sure what we are discussing I suppose.

      • One would think that rather than making a poor copy of of a tree, which is what PVs are, innovation would yield a better system. My urban yard produces 5 tons of organic biomass each year. That yields about 30,000,000 BTU per year. ~30GJ of energy. (dead-falls and combustible debris)

        I get that for free which is about 1/3 of my heating costs… for free. No solar panels, no silicon chips, no smelted aluminum, no copper wire, etc.

        And I get that every year… year after year….Every year my yard sequester CO2 and I burn about that same amount. (Like I care about CO2)

        No solar power plant can beat that.

    • The problem is Sunlight+CO2>cellulose is barely 1% efficient. Works well for plants, but severely limits the productivity of long term useable fuels with an economic amount of land area. If you could produce cellulose, or just sugar, at efficiencies around 20% solar photovoltaic would be dead.

      • Plants are EVERYWHERE. PVs can only be located in “engineered locations” which, compared to plants, make up only 0.5% of green plant locations.

        PV are good for outer space, and remote locations where electricity is needed (remote seismographs). They are a serious efficiency disaster compared with nuclear power. As I said earlier, they are even a poor substitute compared with trees, engineered by nature to extract energy from the sun, absorb CO2, and store it as cellulose.

        Solar power, aside from the few exceptions I mentioned, is a novelty.

  14. so thats the new enthrallling breakthrougs in solar cell efficiency:

    enhancements by ‘butterfly effect’ 50 per cent.

    Claim of new efficiency milestone in a new solar battery 20 per cent.

    3.8 per cent net energy contribution by sustainables

    skyrockets 3.8 * 1.2 * 1.5

    gives 7.94 per cent world demand.

    Haleluja – they see themselves holy rockstars.
    ____

    Let’em be – let’em not come through. Hans

  15. Completely off topic but … Cook got a page in the opinion section of CNN.COM late yesterday and is being BRUTALIZED by the COMMENTS … even people that are sympathetic to the possibility of AGW are ripping him a new one for his childish tone as well as his “absolutist” statements.

      • Go to RealClearPolitics.com and look down the page for the Afternoon Update, if you enter from that link you should be able to see the comments

    • There’s a good comment there that contains:

      I disagree with most of Cook’s article, but I actually am very surprised at the dominance of AGW skepticism in the comments for this article.
      So I’m thinking about surveying the 516 reader comments published so far, and seeing what percentage of them support skepticism. My plan is to consider most of the people who disagree with me to be unqualified because I wouldn’t publish them in my peer-censored technical journal (if I had a peer-censored technical journal) – therefore, I won’t count them. Also for anyone who is somewhat neutral, I will count them as supporting my position. For anyone who presents evidence in favor of the AGW theory but doesn’t explicitly say the words “This supports the AGW theory,” I will count them as supporting my position. Finally, if I somehow don’t achieve my a priori goal of showing an overwhelming support of my position, I will go back and re-evaluate comments until I reach my goal, which is 97%.
      I will then count on poor journalism to propagate that figure, and to gradually distort its meaning.

  16. Frankly, the only difference I see is using a liquid catholyte much like a car battery uses. Adding a solar cell to the battery doesn’t make the battery more efficient nor does combining the components together. There are reasons that liquid catholytes might not be the best solution for all problems. That’s why gel cells were invented.

    This sounds like hype.

  17. This sounds like an interesting development. Maybe it is a break through? Unfortunately the article was written by a student of current journalistic practices. It didn’t convey much that that could be used to evaluate the significance of this development.

    • Yes, more storage is good. Even if the battery is 20% more efficient than the ones previously used the problem with intermittent input is still 80%. Suppose the solar cell/battery system was intermittent only because of nightfall. This means the night time can be 20% shorter than previously before you run out. Say 9.6 hours vs 12 at best.

      And yes, the wording of this release is problematic. “The 20 percent comes from sunlight” for example. Well gosh if it wasn’t the electrolyte change then the best solution would be to plug it into the power grid and make it 100% better, yes?

      Then there’s the equating voltage to energy storage. Determining the amount of energy available in a battery is a difficult problem. Voltage levels of a specific battery type might be useful but the same voltage level doesn’t mean the same storage capacity in different battery types.

      Too much jumble to determine if this is a better battery.

      • Incremental improvements that do not go the entire way from where we are, to where we want to be, are still progress in the correct direction.

      • Incremental yes, however, after plowing through the release again, this is getting to look more like they added an energy source to the battery then pretended the addition doesn’t count as and external input because it’s now a component. That’s not only silly but makes you wonder what is being taught at that university.

      • Well, the headline does say this is only a claim. I agree that lots of people are claiming all kinds of ridiculous nonsense these days.
        Even in unrelated fields, and even before climate lying rose to world wide prominence as a valid life pursuit, unwarranted claims and faulty and even fr**dulent research were all too common.
        Imagine now, when so much praise, and so much money, is being heaped on so called climate scientists, that one is working in a different field altogether: Does the widespread acceptance of obvious malarkey as valid research make anyone believe that science is now more circumspect than ever…or the opposite?

      • IOW, the climate shenanigans is likely making everyone more likely to be sloppy.
        Ever see the movie about how the whole world is getting ever dumber?
        No surprise, when the uneducated dullards of the world breed like flies, and more educated people tend to wait until much later in life to even think about considering having 1.3 kids.

      • Menicholas
        The Chinese have found a winning formula. One kid per couple – unless you are very rich (ergo likely to be smart).

  18. I found the article impossible to understand.or if I did understand it, totally inane.

    I think they are saying that adding a solar panel to the battery increases its charging efficiency. The amount of “outside” energy needed to charge the battery is thereby decreased. The solar panel is part of the battery’s design thus does not count as external charging. So this design change of adding a solar panel as an integral part of the battery increases the charging efficiency of the battery.

    Ok guys, I have invented a perpetual motion machine — 100% efficient — just ignore that it is also plugged into an electric outlet since that feature is a part of the machine’s design and thus doesn’t count as energy input.

    God, please, someone tell me I am reading this wrong. I don’t want the world to be this stupid.

    Eugene WR Gallun

    • You read it right, Eugene.

      “they report that their patent-pending design–which combines a solar cell and a battery into a single device”

      So now, the batteries will be non-stackable, and must be kept outdoors. What a great leap forward.

    • Re: “Ok guys, I have invented a perpetual motion machine — 100% efficient — just ignore that it is also plugged into an electric outlet.”
      Is this it? By any chance?

      • Indefatigablefrog

        I am a poet and that most certainly looks poet designed. I sneer at it. Obviously it needs a longer cord.

        Eugene WR Gallun

  19. I found many years ago that sometimes when something didn’t make sense to me, it was because it really was wrong.

    • It’s actually common in the battery business. The amount of energy stored in a battery is difficult to determine but is related to the voltage level. It’s how your phone knows when it’s fully charged or at 50% level, etc. It only works when using the same battery type.

      It’s more a rule of thumb. The energy level is also determined temperature of the battery and the load.

  20. both batteries discharged around 3.3 volts

    “Around”? Is that some new SI measurement I missed. I mean, when it comes to GAT (whatever that is) it gets quoted to two decimal places.

  21. When I saw that they felt the need to explain water and declare it eco-friendly, I was bemused. But then I was reassured.

    In a world where CO2 has been redefined into a pollutant and occasional ‘toxin’, I am relieved to see that water is still on the side of right, justice and the American way.

    • Water in its vapour phase is a greenhouse gas and will have to be the next target once we have rid the world of the scourge of carbon dioxide!

    • “… I am relieved to see that water is still on the side of right, justice and the American way.”

      They forgot to add the word “yet”. Water is not a pollutant…yet.
      Give them time, they are making it up as they go.

      • Brilliant! We’ve been attacking water pollution all wrong. Instead of getting rid of the pollution, we just need to get rid of the water. Problem solved..

      • If we refer to wet cell phones as ‘water polluted’ it will put a negative spin into action and change the public perception to H2O negativity.

      • Let’s ban dihydrogen monoxide…anyone want to sign a petition? I got like 100% of the guys at EPA HQ to sign…it that a problem?

        oh yeah /sarc

  22. When someone comes up with a way to recycle lithium cheaper than mining it, these MAY be more “eco-friendly” than lead acid. Until then, they are unsustainable polluting ‘piles’ o’ poo. That pun should rate a moderation!

  23. I might build one of these myself. Where do I buy a sheet of titanium? Home Depot or Canadian Tire?

  24. Eugene….yes…the world is that stupid. I read the article, then re-read 4 times….then had a beer and re-read again. It falls right in line with the 97% consensus BS. Con artists is to nice a term for these charlatans.

  25. I don’t think that energy conversion efficiency (amp. hours in vs. amp. hrs out) has been the technical bottleneck for electric vehicles or home storage of intermitent electricity. The 100 year old problems are still energy density (volume and weight), usefull discharge cycles, cost and material hazards. This does not represent a breakthrough of any kind.

  26. Let me know when they have something 5 or 10 times more efficient. THAT would be news.

    I mean, is this it? Someone ekes out another 20 percent and it is big news?

  27. If it is a combined solarcell and battery it is ok, if it is also cost effective. Only problem is i can’t find out what it is.

  28. In his excellent review of intermittent energy storage Ruud Istvan showed that, with current and foreseeable technology, the required storage for intermittent sources such as wind and solar, will cost 10-100 times the cost of the (already expensive) renewable generation:

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/07/01/intermittent-grid-storage/

    This means that a 20% gain in storage performance / efficiency is too small a step forward, even if real, to make a difference.

    While it might allow the academics to elbow past their peers into the media spotlight, it won’t make intermittent storage a reality.

  29. Menicholas August 1, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Ok, being skeptical is one thing, but a knee jerk and reflexive dislike of something of which little is known betrays a deeper mind set that honest and unbiased skepticism.
    Give it a chance.
    Some of these comments sound like:
    “I hate solar because it is no good, and even if it was good I still would not like it, and trying to fix something which is no good and which I do not like is stupid.”

    Thanks, Menicholas. Let me make a more substantive comment to you. Their claim is that their battery is “20% more efficient”. Where do they get the extra “efficiency”? The article says:

    The 20 percent comes from sunlight, which is captured by a unique solar panel on top of the battery, explained Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.

    and

    In tests, the researchers compared the solar flow battery’s performance to that of a typical lithium-iodine battery. They charged and discharged the batteries 25 times. Each time, both batteries discharged around 3.3 volts.

    The difference was that the solar flow battery could produce the same output with less charging. The typical battery had to be charged to 3.6 volts to discharge 3.3 volts. The solar flow battery was charged to only 2.9 volts, because the solar panel made up the difference. That’s an energy savings of nearly 20 percent.

    Now, the improvement is (3.6 – 2.9) / 2.9 = 0.6 / 29 = 24%, so their calculation is correct … but what does that calculation actually mean?

    The problem is, the difference is just the solar cell. Let’s replace the solar cell with a tiny fossil fuel generator that puts out 0.6 volts to a 2.9 volt battery … does that make the battery 24% “more efficient”?

    Of course not. If that were the case, we could make a battery 1000% more “efficient” just by increasing the size of the generator.

    So that is why I would say that this is garbage. Not because of a “knee-jerk and reflexive dislike”, but because the idea that you can increase the efficiency of a battery by attaching a generator or a solar cell to it is a scientific joke.

    Regards,

    w.

    • Now, the improvement is (3.6 – 2.9) / 2.9 = 0.6 / 29 = 24%, so their calculation is correct … but what does that calculation actually mean?

      It’s total nonsense, utterly meaningless. It seems to me that a ‘media’ person has written the press release and comprehensively corrupted everything the researchers told him/her and failed to explain anything at all about the invention.

      This would seem to be an everyday occurrence with university press releases; written by people without the ability to understand what they are, sadly, mis-communicating.

      • Dang … if I could type, I’d be dangerous … I did the calculation correctly (+24%), but then I wrote it down on the page wrong.

        Good catch,

        w.

  30. Then on the other hand…

    “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”
    — Lord Kelvin

    “Flight by machines heavier than air is impractical and insignificant, if
    not utterly impossible.”
    — Simon Newcomb, Director, U.S. Naval Observatory, 1902

    “Aerial flight is one of that class of problems with which man will never
    be able to cope.”
    — Simon Newcomb, 1903

    “The resistance of air increases as the square of the speed and works as
    the cube [of speed]…. It is clear that with our present devices there
    is no hope of aircraft competing for racing speed with either our
    locomotives or automobiles.”
    — William H. Pickering, Director, Harvard College Observatory, 1910

    “The popular mind often pictures gigantic flying machines speeding across
    the Atlantic carrying innumerable passengers in a way analogous to our
    modern steam ships. . . it seems safe to say that such ideas are wholly
    visionary and even if the machine could get across with one or two
    passengers the expense would be prohibitive to any but the capitalist who
    could use his own yacht.”
    — William Henry Pickering, Astronomer, 1910

    Bon Appétit
    michael

  31. To my mind, there is a massive flaw in this claim. Let’s start with the basic priciples:
    – a power source is used to charge a storage device.
    – the storage device is then used as a source of power.
    – the storage device’s efficiency is the power output/input ratio. (There are other measures of its utility, this is a principal one).

    In this item, the claim is that putting a solar panel on the storage device makes it more efficient, because then it doesn’t need to have as much power charged into it in the first place.

    But that’s nonsense, because the solar panel isn’t a storage device or part of a storage device – it’s part of the charging process. The efficiency of the storage is unaffected by the solar panel.

  32. Lithium Titanate is a great step forward and you van buy it now: 20.000 charging cycles compared to 1500 cycles for Lition ion and it’s brothers and sisters, almost no thermal issues (safe) 98% efficiency, high charge en discharge loads and an operational temperature range from -40 to + 60+ degrees Celsius.
    http://www.ev-power.eu/LTO-Cells/

    If I lived in a sunny environment I would think about combining these batteries with the Desert PV Module that comes with an operational temp. up to 125 degrees, a life cycle of 75 years + without PID (Potential Induced Degradation) wich lowers the yield of conventional solar modules over time and live off grid. Hell, I even would consider driving an electric car with those batteries.
    http://www.jvg-thoma.de/de/photovoltaik/desert-technologie/

    I think Elon Musk is producing the wrong type of battery.

  33. Bill Gates Provides Boost To Renewable Energy Storage Company Aquion Energy
    April 3rd, 2013 by Nicholas Brown

    Bill Gates, the well known co-founder of Microsoft, has decided to provide a financial boost to renewable energy storage research and development (R&D). He is one member of a group of high-profile investors who are investing $35 million into Aquion Energy.

    The company is creating a water-based battery system intended to be cheap and environmentally friendly. Aquion’s energy storage technology is reportedly being developed for large- and small-scale energy storage projects, and the company is delivering pre-production energy storage units throughout this year, with the intention to ramp up production at a high-volume manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania by the end of 2013.

    “Aquion Energy is fundamentally changing the economics of power generation, transmission and distribution by delivering cost-effective energy storage systems that are made from abundant, nontoxic materials as simple as saltwater,” the company’s website states. “Aquion’s novel Aqueous Hybrid Ion (AHI) battery technology is optimized for stationary energy storage applications including off-grid and micro-grid systems, commercial and industrial energy storage, and grid scale applications.”
    ~^~^~^~^~^~^~

    It’s always Bill Gates. Are you all going to start buying pills from him too?

  34. I always thought batteries dicharged amp-hours not volts. Then again electrical theory must be subject to computer models now.

  35. I priced out some deep cycle golf cart flooded 6 Volt batteries at the COSCO in Caguas, Puerto Rico recently. Each battery cost $83 plus tax. In my application I needed 6 of this heavy puppies. Then went to West Marine in San Juan and inquired about Gel Cell batteries for the same configuration. They priced out at about $400 each all taxes included. The wet cell require maintaining charge more often, and give off gas when being charged. Eventually equalization charging will be required. The Gel cells can be left in fully charged states for months at a time and never need topping up with distilled water as do the flooded batteries. The flooded batteries are subject to leakage of acidic water, the Gel are sealed and should not leak or outgas. Equalization is not required for Gel cells. In my application the individual units are located in difficult to get to places so infrequent access is a factor and in a very closed and tight environment where gas and acid are decidedly not welcome.

    Ten years ago, I think I remember paying about $175 for the equivalent Gel cell battery.
    Recently I have been pondering a solar / battery set up for a farm application specifically a well.
    It seems battery technology has a long way to go for my needs. Perhaps the Tesla factory in Reno will be of some help in the future.

    I await progress.

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