Low Cost, High Energy Batteries Powered By Plants


Rhubarb and other simple green plants could be the source of materials for a new generation of batteries with the potential to transform energy systems, according to new research by Harvard University.

The prospect of low-cost storage has long been a nirvana for the renewable energy industry with the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy restraining their competitiveness against fossil fuels such as coal.

Globally, companies and governments are pouring billions of dollars into developing batteries that can store energy safely, cheaply and at scale.

Flow batteries, a type of rechargeable fuel cell using chemical compounds dissolved in liquids, have seen some of the biggest advances but development has been held back by the high cost of materials used such as vanadium – initially developed by the University of NSW.
The research holds the promise of sharply reduced costs, with the material demonstrated to work at a third of the cost of vanadium or less, said Michael Aziz, a Harvard professor of materials and energy technologies and one of the report’s authors.

“We’ve introduced the world of organic chemicals to flow batteries,” Professor Aziz said. “The ones we have used are very inexpensive, very abundant, they work really well and they’re safe.”

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