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MIT Scientists Reviving Large-Scale Batteries

The energy storage industry has been in a constant stage of development for several decades. Despite its age, battery technology is surprisingly immature and new demands require constant innovation.

To this end, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new approach to large-scale rechargeable batteries, with the hopes of further development into low-cost power storage solutions.

The approach involves using a metal-mesh membrane and combining it with a battery made from sodium and nickel chloride. When connected to large-scale solutions – intermittent power sources such as wind or solar – this can make batteries capable of delivering reliable baseload electricity.

The original battery, using basic battery chemistry, was first introduced in the late 1960s and never found stable popularity commercially or otherwise. This was mainly due to the fact the batteries were easily damaged, caused by the fragile ceramic found inside that was the only option to separate its molten components. This is the exact part that is now being substituted by specially coated metal mesh, which is both considerably stronger and a more flexible material than ceramic. Substituting the two materials would make the batteries durable enough to withstand industrial-scale usage.

Some of the notable advantages of the breakthrough include a material supply that is both cost effective and abundant; extremely safe operating characteristics, and the ability to endure numerous charge-discharge cycles with no signs of degradation. The described features could make the batteries a contender for grid-scale storage, which has previously been a challenge.

Any innovation that provides substantial value to industrial processes is of great interest to Dashboard particularly those involving radical breakthroughs within technology many would consider at the end of its developmental cycle. Incumbent legacy technology is a substantial burden within almost every vertical, as well as roadblock to innovation. We believe the emergence of a solution such as this has only been a matter of time, and now that is it finally a practical option, we hope to see its continued development and subsequent imprint on the energy storage industry.