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Metal-Free 'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Renewable Grid Energy

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the energy-storage-pie dept.

Power 131

sciencehabit writes "A molecule nearly identical to one in rhubarb may hold the key to the future of renewable energy. Researchers have used the compound to create a high-performance 'flow' battery, a leading contender for storing renewable power in the electric utility grid. If the battery prototype can be scaled up, it could help utilities deliver renewable energy when the wind is calm and the sun isn't shining." Abstract.

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131 comments

THe PIE IS A LIE. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912011)

The cake is a lie, we know this.
 
Did we know that the pie was a lie, too?
 
We do now. Thank you, science.

What's the power density of the battery ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 3 months ago | (#45912887)

And how many charge/discharge cycle that "rhubarb battery" can handle ?

What are the benefits this "rhubarb battery" has over the ultra-capacitors which can handle huge number of rapid charge/discharge cycles ?

See the comment I posted back in 2012 regarding ultra-capacitors @ http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3143769&cid=41458249 [slashdot.org]

capacity higher than Duracell AAA (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#45913199)

The difference is that a battery can hold a useful amount of energy.
As a rough guideline, 1 amp hour ~= 10,000 farads.
That's the capacity of a large ultra capacitor or a AAA battery. You don't power a city with those. You can, use them to power your SSD for four seconds in case of a power outage so it can finish writing the data.

Re:capacity higher than Duracell AAA (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 3 months ago | (#45913741)

To be fair, there is talk about scaling them up to run electric cars.

No, the issue today with large ultracapacitors is that 1. tend to be experimental and 2. very expensive.

The advantage of doing something city size is you don't need to spend the extra cash on what ultracacitors are good at - small size and rapid discharge.

Re:capacity higher than Duracell AAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914167)

As a rough guideline, 1 amp hour ~= 10,000 farads.
That's the capacity of a large ultra capacitor or a AAA battery.

Have you clicked the link provided by GP ?

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3143769&cid=41458249 [slashdot.org]

Inside that link there's another link to a very useful PDF - http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/piprod/documents/Session_D_Miller_rev.pdf [energy.gov] -- which has all the information regarding ultra-capacitors.

Do yourself a favor, before you start telling us about your notion of a "large ultracapacitor", click on the link as provided by GP http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/piprod/documents/Session_D_Miller_rev.pdf [energy.gov]

Be Bop a Re Bop (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912017)

Just had to say it. Gotta love PHC!

BS clickbait title. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912029)

BS clickbait title.

Why did the rhubarb battery die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912035)

It ran outta juice!

If it is scaled up.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912071)

If I lost 100 lbs and got $100k in plastic surgery I could maybe be a model too!

Re:If it is scaled up.... (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 months ago | (#45912117)

If I lost 100 lbs and got $100k in plastic surgery I could maybe be a model too!

...a model what?

( *poof!* - you're now plastic and at 1/144th scale )

Re:If it is scaled up.... (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#45912697)

If I lost 100 lbs

You mean scaled down?

renewable energy only (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912087)

That is a shame. I wish it could store non-renewable energy too...

Re:renewable energy only (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#45912125)

Technically, all energy is renewable, at least until we reach the heat death of the universe.

Re:renewable energy only (2)

iamnotasmurf (3464141) | about 3 months ago | (#45914443)

Technically, all energy is renewable, at least until we reach the heat death of the universe.

Sir, your comment lacks entropy

If it can be scaled up? (0)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#45912123)

Laugh more like if it can get past the energy industry trying to squash renewables:
One example: http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/06/missouri-could-squash-economic-development-from-renewable-energy-in-the-state/ [cleantechnica.com]

Which indicates to me that solar and other renewables are becoming feasible and economic.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45912373)

Yeah, go read what your own post actually says.

Bart Korman is the sponsor of House Bill 44 (HB44). The bill would allow Missouri utilities – including Ameren, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire Electric Company – to count ancient hydroelectric plants like the 83 year-old Bagnell Dam towards compliance with the RES.

Clue: Hydro Power IS Renewable Power. Its perfectly appropriate.

In addition, HB44 would allow these utilities to purchase “renewable energy credits” from hydropower from anywhere in the world, of any size. If HB44 goes into law, utilities will change nothing about where their power comes from, and instead Missouri ratepayers would literally be subsidizing large hydropower from faraway places like the Hoover.

In the large picture, it doesn't matter where the power enters the GRID. We've been "wheeling" power for close to a hundred years.
There isn't wind power everywhere, so getting those areas that do have it to put it on the grid makes sense. If there is nobody living
in a a windy area, there would be little reason to build a wind farm there unless you could find remote purchasers.

Your example is seriously flawed. Your understanding of power generation is seriously lacking.
But I gotta say, your tinfoil hat is bright and shiny.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (0)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#45912459)

Your understanding of power generation is seriously lacking.
But I gotta say, your tinfoil hat is bright and shiny.

Nope, just lazy, grabbed the first thing that looked relevant to what I was saying.
Power companies are trying to op out of solar power subsidies.
"And so, as we have seen in Arizona, California and Colorado, utility companies want to roll back subsidies for distributed solar power."
http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/solarcity-solar-power-nonprofit-energy-growth [theguardian.com]
It's too bad you couldn't more pleasant when showing people their errors.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912609)

Nope, just lazy, grabbed the first thing that looked relevant to what I was saying....It's too bad you couldn't more pleasant when showing people their errors.

You even admit to being a lazy fucktard, and you get butthurt because he hurt your widdle feewings!

I'll bet you'll be a little more careful next time, to avoid being shown as a DETRACTOR from the conversation.

Re:Bet on Solar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912857)

src:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lewis-milford/natural-gas-loses-to-sola_b_4556162.html

Re:Bet on Solar (1)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45913093)

Yeah, I'm not sure I'm ready to have cost issued decided by a judge.

In what may be the first time a U.S. solar power project has been declared cost-competitive against natural gas in a competitive bidding process, a judge has said solar is cheaper than natural gas. The ruling could be a road map for avoiding a new fossil fuel age dominated by big natural gas.

He can declare all he wants. When it comes to the issue of cost, a legal jurist is seriously outside his area of competence. Solar in Minnesota is asinine. I lived there for may years.

Re:Bet on Solar (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#45914647)

Meanwhile solar is in use at Dome A in Antarctica!
The people who set it up just attached the panels vertically on poles.
Minnesota is tropical in comparison.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

Derec01 (1668942) | about 3 months ago | (#45913641)

I think the reality is that "renewable" is a code word for many things to many people. To some it means local, to others it just means creating an economic incentive for cleaner power *somewhere*, as the credit system would.

For instance, I wouldn't support the allowance for hydroelectric power most of the time because of the tendency to screw up ecosystems more than some solar panels will, but it's still renewable.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (2)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45914209)

No doubt Hydro changes ecosystems, but unless you are damming very large rivers and endangering fish runs, the ecosystem changes are not significantly different than what was there, (larger lakes where smaller ones were).

The single most significant impact seems to be on certain species of ocean going fish.
As often as not fish and bird populations are improved by lakes forming upstream of dams.

The alleged damage is merely change, and not irreversible change, but some people won't accept any change.
They bitch long and loud about it while sitting in their houses built on huge tracts covering vast regions of prime farmland, prairies and forest.

In many regions, we are tearing out no longer needed dams:

Cool Video Condit Dam: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/environment-news/us-condit-dam-breach-vin/ [nationalgeographic.com]
Time lapse Elwa Dam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUZE7kgXKJc [youtube.com]
NYT Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/30/us/30dam.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]
Maine: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/12/us/maine-dam-removal-a-start-to-restoring-spawning-grounds.html [nytimes.com]

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#45912445)

Well, what this really means is that states such as Idaho and Kentucky can suddenly make it rich in renewable energy, as they're well positioned on the power grid. If other states are preventing renewable energy in-state, that just means other states can drop a few incentives and get a sudden boom in the local economy. Especially since all they need to do is become a storage pool for the existing grid.

Now renewable energy in privately-held consumables... that's another issue. Such states could easily become the forerunners here too though, showing that it can be done and becoming attractive to corporations/talent that wants to solve the problems.

From corn to rhubarb... worth a try.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#45912945)

I'm all for it, it seems that as these alternative power options become more feasible the more push back from corps you're likely to see, at least if you want them attached to the main grid.
Personally in sunny states I think every new house should have panels and be tied into the grid.

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 3 months ago | (#45914309)

Have you ever looked into how damaging it is to the environment to actually build a solar panel? They use nitrogen trifluoride to manufacture them.

Also, the batteries themselves, both production and recycling provide a large impact to the environment.

I lean more to nuclear technology, unfettered by the people who think that recycling spent fuel leads to weapons of doom.

And yes, I've lived with a braidwood nuclear power plant a few miles away and don't mind having a reactor in my back yard (the cooling lakes make great fishing areas).

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#45914325)

Well manufacturing can be done safely, not arguing it is, only that it is possible.
As for nukes, I'm all for it using newer technology, after all can you really run a city like Tokyo on solar?

Re:If it can be scaled up? (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 3 months ago | (#45915499)

Well, what this really means is that states such as Idaho and Kentucky can suddenly make it rich in renewable energy, as they're well positioned on the power grid

Now that they've leveled off their mountains [wikipedia.org], Kentucky and West Virginia have got plenty of flat land to build on!

What's the storage density? (4, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about 3 months ago | (#45912149)

The summary implies that this technology could be used for large-scale power, but I wonder what the storage density is.

Specifically I wonder how this compares to liquid metal batteries [technologyreview.com]. If everything Professor Sadoway says about the liquid metal batteries is true, those really will provide grid-level storage of power.

Storage Density isn't the only problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912347)

I think the best they come up with for a flow battery is Zinc-cerium. And it has a quarter of the storage density of a lead acid battery, and isn't really even comparable to a lithium-ion's storage density.

The biggest problem with flow batteries, is their one advantage of separating the energy storage and the energy production is done better by things we use now such as burning coal to power a steam turbine, nuclear power (again steam turbine), or even petrol in a combustion generator. All of which have insanely higher energy density and use the same "renewalable" model a flow battery does.

Re:What's the storage density? (3, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 3 months ago | (#45912537)

The research paper is here: ma.ecsdl.org/content/MA2013-02/16/1688.full.pdf

There are some papers on liquid metal batteries here: www.ambri.com/.../Chemical_Reviews_LMB.pdf

The problem with any of these systems is that the cost of the raw materials themselves are subject to speculation by the currency markets and investment traders. So the minute, some magic energy storage chemical comes on the market, it is going to become as valuable as gold, and the manufacturing companies are going to be bought up and controlled.

Re:What's the storage density? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 months ago | (#45915193)

Sodium sulphur batteries have been deployed at grid scale in Japan. It's cheap and plentiful, and essay to recycle. Unlikely to be affected much by speculation.

Re:What's the storage density? (2)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45912541)

Actually neither the summary or the article state that it could be used large scale, they merely speculate.
Their test unit is no bigger than a toaster, and they haven't run it for very long.
They are just beginning their investigation.

One wonders if they are allowing for the amount of energy used to pump this stuff around in
their calculations, and the degree to which it is affected by temperature etc.

In short, there are one of these announcements appearing on Slashdot on an average of once
a month. There is a lot of research being done, but none of these have reached large scale
deployment or even production status.

These are all 20 years in the future solutions.
Sort of like wind farms and desert solar plants were 20 years ago.

Re:What's the storage density? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 3 months ago | (#45914511)

Pumping a liquid around at a constant elevation doesn't have a very high energy cost. I imagine you'd lose far more energy through the round-trip chemical reactions than you would through pumping the liquid around.

It's not about density (3, Informative)

localroger (258128) | about 3 months ago | (#45912745)

It's about storing a large amount of energy in a very large amount of electrolyte without similarly large plates and electrical connections. For power storage they are thinking in terms of batteries the size of buildings, perhaps built like current sewerage-treatment plants, to store energy in the electrolyte and move it along, bringing it back to the electrical assembly with pumps as needed. It can be considerably less energy-dense than current batteries in pounds per erg and still be far more practical for the kind of large-scale storage the tech is aimed at.

Re:It's not about density (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45913597)

Pounds per erg? It's always slightly jarring to see metric (cgs) units mixed with Imperial units.

Re:It's not about density (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45913961)

It's about storing a large amount of energy in a very large amount of electrolyte

Well, how practical it is depends on how large we are talking about here.

The Ambri liquid metal batteries are very energy-dense. Just as an aluminum refining plant sucks in huge amounts of power, a liquid metal battery can suck in a lot of power and give it back.

Re:What's the storage density? (2)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 3 months ago | (#45914493)

Storage density is only a problem for portable systems. For fixed storage installations, the important question is "what does it cost per ampere-hour of storage?" Inefficient storage that is cheap can beat highly efficient storage that is expensive.

Of course, to correctly calculate costs one needs to include things that are the result of storage density, like land acquisition and construction of holding tanks. But if the storage medium is cheap, it could come out ahead of some higher density system that has a more expensive storage medium.

Even conversion losses become less of an issue if the storage is cheap enough.

Wrong figure of merit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914953)

You are asking for the wrong figure of merit. What is the importance of storage density for a stationary battery which is supposed to smoothen out the demand peaks in an electric grid?

The important figure of merit here is price per kWh of storage. If you insist you can take an inverse of this number and call it energy density per dollar.

Re:What's the storage density? (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 3 months ago | (#45915515)

To a certain extent, storage density isn't a particularly great concern; the real metric to look for is cost/capacity. If the energy density of this new method is only one half, or one tenth, of liquid metal batteries, but the $/kWh is likewise one half or one tenth, then who cares if you need twice or ten times as much semi-industrial space for a comparable amount of storage?

Not 3D printed or made in space? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912159)

Then it's for LUDDITES. The future of the species is 3D and OFF THIS ROCK!!!

Re:Not 3D printed or made in space? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915293)

Quantum Apostrophe, is that you? Go back to trolling FARK.

What's with the quotes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912189)

It's a flow battery, not a 'flow' battery.
Or possibly a flow 'battery', considering the experimental setup had only one cell.

Re:What's with the quotes? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#45912469)

Yeah; the use of battery has become almost as bad as the use of magazine....

We should just replace the word "battery" with "cluster" (as in beowulf) so that people understand what it means. But I think it's already too late for that.

Home batteries (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 3 months ago | (#45912273)

I doubt the utilities would like this, but for the average home dweller with solar panels it would be useful.

Or we could use the battery in cars, so that while we charge our car in it's garage, when the sun goes down, it can power the house back the other way.

Re:Home batteries (3, Insightful)

m2shariy (1194621) | about 3 months ago | (#45912485)

Right. Buckets of liquid bromine in a gizmo at home, what could possibly gone wrong?

Re:Home batteries (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#45912789)

Sort of like buckets of volatile hydrocarbons in a gizmo at home?
Sure it's also corrosive, but so is chlorine and everyone with a pool has that in their home too.

Re:Home batteries (1)

m2shariy (1194621) | about 3 months ago | (#45913209)

During WW I chlorine was used as WMD. Bromine is similar. Nobody has buckets of clorine at home, what they have is some hypochlorite salts which, when dissolved, oxidize organics in water and slo-o-owly release minimal amounts of chlorine. The flow batteries discussed here are supposed to use elemental bromine. If it leaks in your house, you have to call hazmat team. I mean, your neighbors will have to call, because you will be either dead or very busy coughing up what is left of your lungs.

Re:Home batteries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914969)

They are using bromine only at the initial stages, the goal is to replace the bromine with something else more benign.

Re:Home batteries (2)

icebike (68054) | about 3 months ago | (#45912557)

I doubt the utilities would like this, but for the average home dweller with solar panels it would be useful.

Or we could use the battery in cars, so that while we charge our car in it's garage, when the sun goes down, it can power the house back the other way.

Which makes it really difficult to get to work the next morning.

Re:Home batteries (1)

mikael (484) | about 3 months ago | (#45912597)

They don't even like the existing battery storage systems, because the energy companies are supposed to buy "surplus energy" back from home-owners. Their whole business model is based on being able to charge extra at peak times. If users are able to buy and store energy at night-rate times, they avoid the extra cost of day-time usage.

...it could help utilities deliver renewable energ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912279)

I get it. They're going to take this battery and stick it where the sun don't shine.

do not drink 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912339)

darn good advise. free the innocent stem cells, listen to music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLO3NmGJuHg use POT (Personal Open Terminal) keep it on the up & up. never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to momkind our spiritual centerpeace sync with creation

The Joker said- (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912361)

Never rub another man's rhubarb.

More like a reversible fuel cell (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#45912393)

EETimes has a more useful article. [eetimes.com] This is more like a reversible fuel cell. The working fluid is pumped through the cell, where a chemical reaction occurs. The process is reversible. So there's a "charged" fuel tank, a "discharged" fuel tank, pumps, and plumbing. No info yet on the energy density of the "charged" fuel tank, which is the big question.

Some numbers from the paper (5, Informative)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 3 months ago | (#45912405)

In the galvanic direction, peak power densities were 0.246Wcm2 and 0.600W cm2 at these same SOCs, respectively (Fig. 1c). To avoid significant water splitting in the electrolytic direction, we used a cut-off voltage of 1.5V, at which point the current densities observed at 10% and 90% SOCs were 2.25 A cm2 and 0.95Acm2, respectively, with corresponding power densities of 3.342Wcm2 and 1.414Wcm2. ...

The galvanic discharge capacity retention (that is, the number of coulombs extracted in one cycle divided by the number of coulombs extracted in the previous cycle) is above 99%, indicating the battery is capable of operating with minimal capacity fade and suggesting that current efficiencies are actually closer to 99%. ...

AQDS has an aqueous solubility greater than 1M at pH 0, and the quinone solution can thus be stored at relatively high energy density—volumetric and gravimetric energy densities exceed 50Whl1 and 50Whkg1, respectively. ...

As shown in Fig. 2, current efficiency starts at about 92% and climbs to about 95% over ~15 standard cycles. Note that these measurements are done near viable operating current densities for a battery of this kind. Because of this, we believe this number places an upper bound on the irreversible losses in the cell. In any case, 95% is comparable to values seen for other battery systems.

I'm not an expert in any applicable field, but as I have institutional access to the original paper, I scanned it to find what looked to me like relevant numbers. As I interpret the above:

It generates about 0.5W cm^-2 of membrane, so you'd need 2m^2 to get 1 kW output. (But presumably this can be in some compact folded/layered configuration.)
It can charge much faster than it discharges: that 2m^2 of membrane would let you charge at about 4kW.
The storage capacity of the battery fades at less than 1% per charge/discharge cycle.
One litre of reactants lets you store 50Wh of energy (i.e. 20kg for a kilowatt hour)
I think the last paragraph is saying that, neglecting pumping costs, it returns about 95% of the energy you put into it.

Note that we can expect these numbers to improve with further research, but whether there are big improvements to come or only minor ones I couldn't say.

Also: They use a two-reactant-tank set up rather than four tanks, so each tank holds a mixture of the 'charged' and 'discharged' forms of its reactants (e.g. one tank holds a mixture of Br2 and HBr.) I'd naively expected a four tank set up.

Re:Some numbers from the paper (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 3 months ago | (#45912693)

One litre of reactants lets you store 50Wh of energy (i.e. 20kg for a kilowatt hour)

To put in in perspective, a random pick: the 1.4L engine of the current version of Volkswagen Golf (a city car, rather) generates 59kW - to power it up using the "rhubarb flow battery" and keep its performance unchanged (also assuming 100% efficiency of the power train), one would need about in excess of 100 liters of reactant per hour.

Me thinks:
* lotsa room for improvement
* even so, the more likely scenario for the next 10 years is the "renewable energy power plant buffering energy using flow batteries" one rather than an "electric car filling its reactant tanks"

It's not for cars (2)

localroger (258128) | about 3 months ago | (#45912777)

For grid storage your battery will be a building. It can be as large as necessary; it's the price of the infrastructure and reactant to store and re-create enough energy to get the solar farm past a rainy day which are limits.

Re:Some numbers from the paper (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about 3 months ago | (#45912991)

even so, the more likely scenario for the next 10 years is the "renewable energy power plant buffering energy using flow batteries" one rather than an "electric car filling its reactant tanks"

I have a 3.5 kW solar system on my roof that sells excess power back to the grid at 8c/kWh. At night, I pay 28c/kWh.

I use about 16kWh/day, around 40% of that at night. This flow battery takes around 20kg of reactant for a kilowatt hour, so I'd need around 120kg to meet current (ha) needs.

So, for my (probably not wildly atypical) situation, a battery like this would save me around $400/yr.

In other words, if you could produce these right now, with the power densities as stated, at a cost of $600 or less/kWh, they'd sell like hotcakes to private households.

Re:Some numbers from the paper (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 3 months ago | (#45913357)

I use about 16kWh/day, around 40% of that at night. This flow battery takes around 20kg of reactant for a kilowatt hour, so I'd need around 120kg to meet current (ha) needs.

So, for my (probably not wildly atypical) situation, a battery like this would save me around $400/yr.

My (probably not wildly atypical situation): I'm differentially charged based on the hour of consumption: 30c/kWh off-peak, 38 (or 42) c/kWh (based on the total 3-month-based consumption) for peak.
It would make sense for me to suck power from the grid at night time and push it back in the grid during the day; it would make sense for the producers as well - can reduce their excess capacity they need to provision to deal with on-peak - this should worth something for them, even if considering only the maintenance costs for the excess capacity.

(this disregarding the solar panels I have to save me the energy costs, as I'm billed or paid only for the balance at the end of the period).

Re:Some numbers from the paper (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 3 months ago | (#45912769)

As compared to your bog standard lead acid battery, which contains approximately 94 WH per L and 48 Wh per kg. This thing is slightly better than lead acid by gravimetric energy density and about half as good by volumetric energy density.

Re:Some numbers from the paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45913937)

On the other hand, you can make this as big as you like without needing absurd amounts of lead - the energy is actually stored in the liquid, not on the anode or cathode. You can have Olympic swimming pool sized reservoirs (or even bigger), which is simply not practical for conventional batteries.

Re:Some numbers from the paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914053)

Four tank setup can obviously improve efficiency, but it will add complexity. With one tank per reagent they can keep it airtight without inert gas pressurization. As quinones are easily oxidized in contact with the air, keeping the stuff airtight is a must if you want to use it for a long time. Besides they have a lot of room to improve efficiency by just playing with the chemistry. As they note doing simple things like improving solubility can increase the capacity. There are also other things that can be done, like packing more quinone rings in the molecule.

I can't help but notice the similarity of their setup with the electron transport chain in the mitochondria. The principle is the same, shuttle protons from a quinone donor through a semipermeable membrane

"A molecule nearly identical" (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 3 months ago | (#45912527)

Is this what passes for science reporting... "A molecule nearly identical".

Re:"A molecule nearly identical" (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 3 months ago | (#45914069)

I don't know why the focus is on rhubarb specifically. Anthraquinones are found all throughout nature, usually as some sort of red or yellow pigment (like the pigment carmine, for instance, made from cochineal insects). Rhubarb contains some compounds call anthraquinone glycosides, but I wouldn't characterize them as being "nearly identical" to anthraquinone disulfonic acid on account of sugar molecules not being very similar to sulfonic acid groups.

Instead of scaling it up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912593)

... why not scale it down. There's a real need for batteries right now that have higher energy density, particularly with today's portable communication devices.

Re:Instead of scaling it up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45912921)

The density is lower, not higher.
The advantage here is the "high-performance" part, i.e. quick charge / discharge rates.

You owe me $0.05. (1)

Gavin Scott (15916) | about 3 months ago | (#45912807)

I'm going to start demanding a nickle in response to every press release announcing a new miracle battery technology.

I figure that will let me retire in about 18 months.

G.

Re:You owe me $0.05. (2)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 3 months ago | (#45913133)

Attributed to Edison when describing how many times he tried and failed to make a useful light bulb:

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

In case you haven't noticed, you are not sitting around at night in a house illuminated by candles, kerosine, whale oil or burning gas. This is because inventing new useful technology is hard, and takes many trials over a extended period of time.

There are at least two startups with new technology battery systems installing units in the next year or so: Ambri [ambri.com] and Aquion [aquionenergy.com].

Anyone with $0.05 shouldn't give it to you because it would be a waste of resources. They should invest it in one of these companies (or competitors) and take a chance on making money and making the future more sustainable.

Re:You owe me $0.05. (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 months ago | (#45913243)

Edison said that, but Edison a mediocre inventor and a bad person. Inventing new useful technology isn't easy, but the best approach usually isn't to use the brute force technique.

Bromine (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 3 months ago | (#45913265)

Isn't anyone concerned that one of the reactants is a halogen?

Re:Bromine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915281)

No. What's the problem? Yes, halogens react in a rather energetic way. That's true for all methods of energy storage. If the reactions weren't energetic, they'd be inappropriate for an energy storage system.

and best of all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45913337)

if you are done with it it makes a tastey pie

Definitely associated with "flow" (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 3 months ago | (#45913629)

When I was a kid I ate large amounts of rhubarb, rhubarb pie, cobbler, etc. Definitely created high performance flow issues, involving interfacing with utilities by, uh, sitting on the can.

Re:Definitely associated with "flow" (1)

sideslash (1865434) | about 3 months ago | (#45913639)

FTA: "when the wind is calm and the sun isn't shining."

Definitely where the sun wasn't shining. Can't say that the wind was calm, though. OK, I think everybody's got the picture. I'll stop now.

A molecule nearly identical to... (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 3 months ago | (#45913733)

Water and hydrogen peroxide are also pretty damn close. H2O, H2O2. How much difference could an additional hydrogen atom make?

Re:A molecule nearly identical to... (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 3 months ago | (#45915303)

Well, an additional H results in H3O. The ionized version of that (H3O+) is quite common and a native element in plain water. Even distilled water, because it forms with OH- from 2 H2O molecules.
However, an additional oxygen molecule does give H2O2. You point stands.

ZBB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45913857)

My company already makes a zinc-bromide flow battery that's on the market. Going to make a 500kW version soon. It also has an advanced power management eco-system it "lives" in, It uses zinc and bromine. And we all know that zinc is super expensive because its a metal - right?
.
ZBB www.zbbenergy.com

Not a fan of utility scale electric storage (3, Insightful)

blindseer (891256) | about 3 months ago | (#45913977)

I used to be a big advocate of the idea of having big batteries to store electricity from unreliable and "green" energy like wind and solar. That was until the cost of wind and solar power really sunk in. Wind power is on about par with peak energy generation like natural gas turbines, which is somewhere between 2x and 3x the cost of typical base load power like coal and nuclear. Solar power is so expensive, and variable (based on location, weather, usage, etc.) that it boggles my mind that any utility would even consider it. Then I recall all the subsidies from tax money spent on this nonsense that it starts to make sense to me again.

The cost of the wind and solar power is high enough that adding to the cost with storage has got to mean the total cost to the utility, and therefore the customer, would be something like 4x what coal and nuclear would cost. Then the size of these batteries would have to be astronomical.

One thing that concerns me is the environmental impact these batteries would have. The materials for the batteries would have to come from somewhere. I assume they would have to be mined out of the ground. These batteries would have to be manufactured, transported, etc. The carbon footprint of pouring the concrete pad these would most likely have to sit upon would have to be quite large.

Another question of environmental impact is, what if there is a leak? The stuff used in the batteries may have been derived from plant material but too much of anything can be bad. I grew up on a farm, I saw what too much water can do. I also saw what too much fertilizer can do, it burns the crops almost as if it was set on fire. What will the liquids in this battery do to crops and water supplies if there is an accidental release?

At least with nuclear power any radioactivity will decay away, with a chemical spill that stuff will always be there. I would much rather see someone come up with a technology to make the production of ammonia cheaper and not rely on natural gas. Ammonia is a fertilizer, a naturally occurring substance, and a fuel. An ammonia leak would still be an asphyxiation hazard, a fire hazard, could burn crops, and could pollute a water supply. However, ammonia is a gas that breaks down into nitrogen and water in the air. The stuff they use in this battery contains bromine and sulfur, what would that do to the water table?

No thanks, I'll take nuclear power instead.

Where's my flying car? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#45914681)

No thanks, I'll take nuclear power instead.

No you won't, because the banks and governments will not touch it and the energy utilities don't have enough ready cash to do it alone.
The lesson that should have been learnt after TMI of lots of small reactors didn't happen so the price per reactor is still far too high for it to happen without vast amounts of capital.

Also the nuclear lobby ate it's own children by lobbying against such small reactors and thorium research. Unless something comes out of India or China does something original civilian nuclear is going nowhere.


So even though enormous nuclear plants of a new design could theoretically come in cheap per MW/h over their lifetime it's not happening because the price of entry is too high for anyone to be interested.
Thus at this point the other alternative energies, such as solar and wind, are far more relevant than nuclear.

Re:Not a fan of utility scale electric storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915493)

You know, there are remote places where it makes complete sense to install a bunch of solar panels instead of building a cable from nearest nuclear plant. There will be even more place like these if it becomes possible to store the generated power for later use, the longer the possible storing time the more sites become possible. Think between small battery packs and huge buildings. Storage sizes of small shacks.

The rest of your post is kinda funny. "At least with nuclear power any radioactivity will decay away, with a chemical spill that stuff will always be there." Really? Really? Check out chernobyl, the only nuclear accident that should be concidered as such. Radiation is pretty much impossible to remove. Any chemical stuff can be cleared, or diluted. That radiation wil lbe there "forever" from a human viewpoint (about 600-700 years untill it's safe to repopulate the area. Radiation levels will be up for around 50000 years.) You really thing some chemicals will stay in nature for 50000 years? By that time there will be bacteria that eats it, and needs it.

Re:Not a fan of utility scale electric storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915507)

Same AC as above. I have to add. Despite radiation lingering around I too take nuclear power instead of super expensive solar and/or wind. However I think we can get the costs down, and to encourage the development of solar and wind it's ok to give subsidies so they become more commen and we get more data, more actuall usage, and more expertise to develop them further. Building solar or wind doesn't mean we can't at the same time use nuclear and coal (which I would personally like to get rid of. Now those things REALLY pollute a lot. Yes it's cheap. But not in the long term, and I can't really put a price tag on my health.)

Not enough of an article to be useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45914115)

I find as I get older that I am demanding more and more from the articles that I read. In this case, I have rhubarb growing in my backyard (when it grows, its winter where I live and the roots of the rhubarb plant are underground and the ground has about 3 feet of snow on top of it). But it grows every year and needs very little in the way of fertilizer or water, and grows to about 5 feet in diameter. The old house next door went down a few years ago and the new one that replaced it is huge. Between my house and the house next door is now a bit of a wind tunnel. I have built a generator with extremely powerful Chinese magnets, and mounted it on a set of bicycle rims that have a piece of canvas acting like a turbine. On an average day I can generate about a dozen kW of power from this thing. I normally run the computer for about 12 hours a day. Storing power in a battery could eliminate the power I use to run the computer (charge all night, then run on what is being generated and what is in storage during the day). If I have to replace the rhubarb electrolyte every year, that's fine. But... getting to my initial complaint, this is /. and not hack-a-day and they are massively scarce on details of the build. Its interesting, and nice. Call me with a take away.

From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915089)

Numerous technologies have been proposed to store excess renewable energy for later use. And many regions already pump water uphill and later run it through a generator to do just that. But that doesn’t work in the flatlands.

Todays line of thinking about reversible hydroelectric power is like ancient ideas about water supplying infrastructure (Roman aqueducts): "water can only flow on its own if it is downhill".

You can pump water under high pressure into the underground cavity and then release it back to recover energy, it is the same principle as with conventional hydro power where you assure high hydrostatic pressure by piling water mass behind a tall dam. The turbines don't give a damn for what the source of the pressure is. Moreover, using a column of earth instead of a water column to achieve same pressure means you need less land area for that. You can think of this one as of an reversible Artesian well. And since the turnover time is typically short (for photovoltaics it is basically a day/night cycle), you even don't need much water capacity either - a small system could consist of an expandable steel tank under a concrete weight and an outflow collecting pool. And of course, the turbines and pumps.

99% cappacity retention not great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915301)

If it loses 1% of its capacity every time its charged then charging daily with your solar panels will leave you with just 3% capacity after 365 days/charging cycles?

So I guess you will have to have it refueled every six months or so. Which starts to sound sort of closer to the economics of heating fuel in a tank...

I hope I am misunderstanding as a 100kw/h battery for $3000 dollars would revolutionize the economics of solar power for most households with a large enough basement/shed to put it in.

GlaDOS already invented this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45915397)

[youtube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3WF-5-o2KA

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