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Baverstam Newsletter Summary: Volume 11, Issue 5

Materials For Energy Storage IV

Materials technology is the foundation for developing new energy storage technology. Li-ion has been a commercial product for two decades in portable electronic devices. The newest frontier for Li-ion is in automotive applications, but the Li-ion battery pack for the Nissan Leaf currently costs nearly as much as the retail price of a comparable gasoline powered economy car. Success in this market will require improved technology and lower cost, but possibly a completely different technology such as the all-electron battery being developed at Stanford and a spin out company. This newsletter looks at a number of exciting new developments in energy storage. Supercapacitors are ideal for high current, long cycle life applications like automotive but lacks the energy density. A number of companies are leveraging nanomaterials to develop higher energy capacity in supercapacitors with one company claiming the same energy density as a NiMH battery. The controversial company EEStor claims energy capacity that exceeds current automotive Li-ion batteries combined with supercapacitor performance, but has still not executed on its promises. Another company emerged recently with similar technology and ambition. Another important area is grid scale energy storage, which is not only critical for renewable energy but also valuable for handling peak load demand in electricity generation. Here a MIT spinout is developing a new, scalable, low cost concept for large, stationary batteries using molten metals for both anode and cathode.

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