New Grid Storage Tech Could Boost Renewable Energy's Appeal


Efficient energy storage is one of the missing elements to make solar and wind power far more dependable and practical, but one startup hopes to fill that gap. Sun Catalytix is creating a new type of grid-storage battery that shows high potential for renewable energy sources. The Cambridge, MA-based MIT spinoff has designed a flow battery that uses custom materials from inexpensive commodity chemical, according to a report this week in MIT's Technology Review.

Unlike typical flow batteries, which use metal dissolved in a liquid electrolyte, Sun Catalytix's electrolytes are made from metals combined with ligands. According to the report, this gives engineers more design flexibility to create an inexpensive and safe battery with a life of up to 15 years under daily charging condition. For more details on the technology, see the original article in Technology Review here.

The company expects that the full-scale version of its system, which is slated for 2015 or 2016, could cost $300. That's less than half as much as current grid-storage batteries.

Other competitors in the field are Eos Energy Storage, which makes a zinc-air battery, and Ambri, which has created a liquid-metal battery. You can read more about these competitive technologies here.

Grid storage aside, what's the next big hurdle for renewables?