Solar storage breakthroughMarch 4, 2014
Via MIT technology review – Carnegie Mellon engineering professor Jay Whiteacre has developed long lasting batteries for storing solar energy that are longer lasting than traditional batteries and do not use rare earth elements. From the TR story:
Whitacre’s batteries are expected to last twice as long as lead-acid batteries and cost about the same to make. They won’t require air-conditioning and will use nontoxic materials. Electrical current in the battery is generated as sodium ions from a saltwater electrolyte shuttle between manganese oxide–based positive electrodes and carbon-based negative ones.
Manganese is the 12th most common element on earth, which gives these batteries another advantage over lithium-ion batteries that are the focus of much energy storage efforts. Lithium is a rare element and powers much of the technology in the 21st century world. So much so that some think that we may see “peak lithium” long before we see peak oil.