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Baverstam Newsletter Summary: Volume 9, Issue 10

Materials for Energy Storage & Power Generation III

We provide an update on developments in energy storage and power generation technology, namely batteries, ultracapacitors and fuel cells with a focus on developments in materials technology. The interest in this sector has increased in recent years in step with the drive to find alternatives to fossil fuels. The automotive segment either requires cost effective and durable fuel cells, or cost effective high power density, durable, and safe batteries. Supercapacitors can work in parallel with batteries to provide peak power, but the controversial EEStor technology could provide both very high energy capacity and very high power output. But there are other options: the nanotube based supercapacitors developed at MIT match the energy capacity of a lead acid battery. In the rechargeable battery space, the focus is on LFP based batteries from A123 Systems and other companies, although there are ongoing patent disputes. Meanwhile other technologies, such as rechargeable metal-air batteries, are being resurrected by employing innovative materials technology. Finally, the intermittency of renewable power generation calls for energy storage in the grid that goes far beyond any existing battery technologies. However, there are interesting technical proposals for grid scale batteries: for example, liquid metal batteries being developed at MIT.

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