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NEW: Organic Battery for almost every renewable energy power facility

organic battery

The tanks of electro active materials can be made as large as needed — increasing total amount of energy the system can store — or the central cell can be tweaked to release that energy faster or slower, altering the amount of power (energy released over time) that the system can generate.

Scientists from the University of Southern California have developed an organic battery that contains no metals or toxic materials and it can be used in association with power plants.

A lot cheaper than the lithium-ion batteries.

Organic Battery

For renewable energy power plants we need big batteries with lots of capacity.

“The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year life span,” said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. That’s 500% more enduring than comparable lithium-ion technology.

The batteries work similarly to fuel cells. Imagine 2 tanks of water containing organic electro-active materials

  • one solution positive
  • the other negative

are pumped into a central tank divided by a membrane. The chemicals interact across the membrane release electricity. The researchers are confident the battery can go from small to gigantic. 

Video

Quinones

Narayan and his team are using oxidized organic compounds commonly found in plants, fungi, bacteria and animals. These compounds are natural energy-producing chemicals used by animals in respiration and plants for photosynthesis. They are called quinones and manufactured by the USC team. In the future the team believes that carbon dioxide will be the source for its quinones.

The team has filed several patents in regards to design of the battery and next plans to build a larger scale version.

Scaling

This promising technology has attracted the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency which has provided funding for scaling the battery to build larger versions.

If successful this may prove to be a technology present at almost every renewable energy power facility.

MIT

In addition, MIT is developing a completely new cell architecture that will ensure that the electrolyte contains no molecular bromine when it’s captured and recycled during closed-loop operation. At this point, the issues with their system all involve what he calls known physics.

“If it’s not performing as well as we’d like, we have predictive models that can help us redesign the shape of the channels and the speed of the flows to make it better. It’s a solvable problem.”

Find out more at MIT

Quinones

The team’s breakthrough centered around the electro active materials. While previous battery designs have used metals or toxic chemicals, the researchers wanted to find an organic compound that could be dissolved in water. Such a system would create a minimal impact on the environment, and would likely be cheap, they figured.

Through a combination of molecule design and trial-and-error, they found that certain naturally occurring quinones — oxidized organic compounds — fit the bill. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

Currently, the quinones needed for the batteries are manufactured from naturally occurring hydrocarbons. In the future, the potential exists to derive them from carbon dioxide, Narayan said. The team has filed several patents in regards to design of the battery, and next plans to build a larger scale version.

Power Japan Plus

USC isn’t the first to experiment with organic batteries. Japanese startup Power Japan Plus recently unveiled a new organic battery technology that generates twice as much energy as a lithium ion battery and charges 20 times faster. The company claims the technology could lead to cheaper long-range electric vehicles (EV) that can travel hundreds of miles on a charge and be charged in minutes rather than hours.

Sumitomo

Another Japanese company, Sumitomo, also recently announced that it had developed and installed the world’s first large-scale power storage system that utilizes used electric-vehicle (EV) batteries. Over the next three years, the system will measure the smoothing effect of energy output fluctuation from the nearby Hikari-no-mori solar farm, and will aim to establish a large-scale power storage technology by safely and effectively utilizing the huge quantities of discarded used EV batteries which will become available in the future.

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