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Liquid Metal Battery How They Work And Change World

Liquid Metal Battery How They Work And Change World

The reason Bill Gates wanted to meet the professor Donald sadoway was that he had been watching his lecture series on Solid State chemistry

Bill Gates was one of the first people to realize the dangers of climate change and he knew that if he wanted a grid based on Renewables there needed to be a miracle in battery storage

So when they finally did meet Gates ask Professor sadoway what he was working on and he sketched out an idea that might one day make large-scale grid storage possible

1. Problems With Renewables 

Electricity production accounts for 25% of global carbon emissions with Renewables getting extremely cheap they are a great candidate for decarbonization of the grid What Cielo and energy and Marine systems company has is amazing Atlas where you can see what renewable resource is ideal for which region 

But there's a catch things need to happen if you want a grid reliant on Renewables one part is over building your renewable facilities you need to build them around twice the Region's Peak load and you also must have gas powered plants that can spin up their turbines during times 

when Renewables are scarce along with that comes a requirement for batteries and if you're completely against any major fossil fuel burning power plants

Then for example, in case of Germany you'd have to build solar To four times Peak load and have 10 times as much energy stored in batteries i specifically chose Germany because they're at the Forefront of using Renewables to mitigate climate change and they've managed a 15% reduction in the last decade

The price for that achievement is having the highest rates of electricity of pretty much any country out there i'm keep in mind that this price is helped by the availability of cheap natural gas but Germany is a very rich country their citizens can absorb more cost without it affecting the country's economy or development

We in India cannot raise electricity prices that away because electricity equals education, jobs, internet manufacturing and a healthy climate change,carbon emissions all the hours in the world and the same holds true of China to a lesser extent as to being the largest carbon emitters overall means that the problem is intractable unless battery storage becomes really cheap and widely available

In his sketch Donald sadoway described a liquid metal battery that would be made from earth-abundant materials no Platinum electrodes or mining the moon for helium-3 involved in his own words, if you want to make something Dirt Cheap make it from Dirt a fair point considering that today is computational era may not have been possible at the most common component not been silicone sadoway

Also understood the fact that an energy storage technology that came in really expensive with the promise to become cheaper at scale would never scale because nobody would buy it so he built in the constraint that whatever solution they researched should be competitive not with other batteries

But with energy storage methods like Pumped Hydro yet another condition for him was that the battery should be designed to be Mass manufactured ends of the graph in Era where lots of incredible materials and properties were promised but almost never made it out of the lab turns out that single atom thick layers are hard to make it skill

He and his students had published a paper on the liquid metal battery as soon as it took the developed idea to him,Bill Gates funded the startup that grew out of this research Church and Ambria was well on its way

2. How Liquid Metal Battery Works

Let's see why this battery was so unique and so useful in the liquid metal battery it have three layers the cathode is the heavier element in this case antimony the Magnesium wants to Cozy up to the antimony

It wants to be with the antimony but it can't pass through the electrolyte so it ditches its electron and moves through the electrolyte disguised as an eye on the electrons move through an external circuit and neutralize magnesium cations where they settle into an alloy with antimony

So as the battery discharges the amount of magnesium reduces and the bottom most layer gets thicker when you have to charge it up again,you apply an electric field using external current to coax the Magnesium ions back through the electrolyte and the Anode thus replenishes now solid anodes and cathodes 

In the Lithium-ion batteries they have memory in the sense that is a Lithium-Ion was particularly rough during a charge or discharge cycle then the damage remains and causes a phenomenon called fate causing the battery to slowly lose its capacity over time,which is probably not all that relevant for mobile devices since we throw them out after a few years anyway

For Shekhar's they restrict the charging and discharging to ninety percent or less of maximum capacity in order to mitigate this effect, but for grit scale energy storage longevity is definitely an important consideration

The benefit of a liquid metal battery is that since they do not have a complex lattice structure tey have no memory after each cycle of charge and discharge the cell goes back to exactly what it was before

You might be thinking that surely there must be component in this whole system that undergoes irreversible reactions but in that testing they found that the battery retained its maximum capacity even after five thousand Cycles

The fade was absolutely negligible another thing with Lithium-ion batteries is occasionally, they tend to catch fire and explode this is quite dangerous for tiny smartphone batteries, but when you scale it up to utility, it's a huge problem it necessitates cooling systems fire crashing systems etc. For any grit scale solution 

Liquid metal batteries on the other hand need high temperatures because the metals and salts in it need to be in molten State heat is good the DC-DC round trip efficiency is claimed to be 80% and that exceeds the rates of even pumped Hydro

I was a little skeptical like maybe the total number is 80 percent and a bunch of it probably goes to heat the battery to operate in temperatures, but But no 80% efficiency is after taking into account the energy required for heating that is really competitive and to top it all off 

It can be charged and recharged at very high rates because the cathode and anode don't get damaged because the liquid, have you ever tried punching water It's not very effective, But are these batteries cheaper than lithium ion 

Skulls of retired EV batteries could be repurposed for grid scale storage after all and economies of scale are already driving the price of new batteries for the down

Well in terms of just materials the cost is around a third of lithium ion batteries the casing Etc. I'm not sure about but steel isn't all that expensive is it manufacturing liquid metal batteries is also simpler than lithium ion batteries, based on this Ambry estimates that they will be able to manage similar storage capacity at half price

3. Possible Issues

Finally time where we talk about the archenemy of liquid metal batteries slopes It's liquid so if you're tilted everything might get mixed up those are easily avoided what about earthquakes and giant stopping the toes

If the battery short circuit so there will be an immense discharge of hint but which will still not be enough to melt the steel casing the battery will eventually go down to room temperature but will now be useless 

I think actually no if you heat it back up, the metals will melt and it will reconfigure itself back to its original form that's why the fact that it is liquid is so crucial 

The other downside is that it needs to be cycled through a full charge and discharge cycle every two days to things like seasonal storage are not for consideration, but they are perfect for backing up solar power sun goes down batteries ramp up go through a full discharge to the sun comes up again and then begin charging 

More usage is Better for these batteries as opposed to the Lithium-ion batteries which suffer played with more use 

Current Status 

So impressing Bill Gates founded his own company being named in the times hundred most influential people of 2012 giving a TED Talk that was viewed 750 thousand times and Publishing a paper in nature the journal but where is Ambria

Now initially planning to launch their batteries in 2016 they were not able to reach the technological or price points that they had fall and as a consequence had to layoff 14 employees around a quarter of their Workforce

But I'm happy to say that they have persisted and have now closed a deal to back up at 35 Hundred Acre data center operated by terascale the battery will provide a massive 250 megawatt hour storage and will work in conjunction with a 500 megawatt solar power plant

4. Conclusion

Their chemistry has evolved a bit and they using calcium alloy for the anode and solid aunt many particles for the cathode Donald sadoway has also kept his promise of making the battery keeping its end purpose in mind

This cell is in a steel container many of which are packaged together into a module designed to fit into a storage container while being transported the battery is at room temperature thus cannot store or discharge any energy making it completely safe because of the nature of the batteries it works well in hot places like, you know India,UAE,Brazil,Saudi Arabia…..Etc

As more projects goldeneyes we will get a better understanding of how well this technology Works in commercial applications and at what price


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