Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Power Science

Metal-Free 'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Renewable Grid Energy 131

sciencehabit writes "A molecule nearly identical to one in rhubarb may hold the key to the future of renewable energy. Researchers have used the compound to create a high-performance 'flow' battery, a leading contender for storing renewable power in the electric utility grid. If the battery prototype can be scaled up, it could help utilities deliver renewable energy when the wind is calm and the sun isn't shining." Abstract.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Metal-Free 'Rhubarb' Battery Could Store Renewable Grid Energy

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Home batteries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2shariy ( 1194621 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:08PM (#45912485)
    Right. Buckets of liquid bromine in a gizmo at home, what could possibly gone wrong?
  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer&earthlink,net> on Friday January 10, 2014 @12:17AM (#45913977)

    I used to be a big advocate of the idea of having big batteries to store electricity from unreliable and "green" energy like wind and solar. That was until the cost of wind and solar power really sunk in. Wind power is on about par with peak energy generation like natural gas turbines, which is somewhere between 2x and 3x the cost of typical base load power like coal and nuclear. Solar power is so expensive, and variable (based on location, weather, usage, etc.) that it boggles my mind that any utility would even consider it. Then I recall all the subsidies from tax money spent on this nonsense that it starts to make sense to me again.

    The cost of the wind and solar power is high enough that adding to the cost with storage has got to mean the total cost to the utility, and therefore the customer, would be something like 4x what coal and nuclear would cost. Then the size of these batteries would have to be astronomical.

    One thing that concerns me is the environmental impact these batteries would have. The materials for the batteries would have to come from somewhere. I assume they would have to be mined out of the ground. These batteries would have to be manufactured, transported, etc. The carbon footprint of pouring the concrete pad these would most likely have to sit upon would have to be quite large.

    Another question of environmental impact is, what if there is a leak? The stuff used in the batteries may have been derived from plant material but too much of anything can be bad. I grew up on a farm, I saw what too much water can do. I also saw what too much fertilizer can do, it burns the crops almost as if it was set on fire. What will the liquids in this battery do to crops and water supplies if there is an accidental release?

    At least with nuclear power any radioactivity will decay away, with a chemical spill that stuff will always be there. I would much rather see someone come up with a technology to make the production of ammonia cheaper and not rely on natural gas. Ammonia is a fertilizer, a naturally occurring substance, and a fuel. An ammonia leak would still be an asphyxiation hazard, a fire hazard, could burn crops, and could pollute a water supply. However, ammonia is a gas that breaks down into nitrogen and water in the air. The stuff they use in this battery contains bromine and sulfur, what would that do to the water table?

    No thanks, I'll take nuclear power instead.

I've got a bad feeling about this.