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

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  • by steveha ( 103154 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @07:22PM (#45912149) Homepage

    The summary implies that this technology could be used for large-scale power, but I wonder what the storage density is.

    Specifically I wonder how this compares to liquid metal batteries []. If everything Professor Sadoway says about the liquid metal batteries is true, those really will provide grid-level storage of power.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @07:52PM (#45912373)

    Yeah, go read what your own post actually says.

    Bart Korman is the sponsor of House Bill 44 (HB44). The bill would allow Missouri utilities – including Ameren, Kansas City Power & Light, and Empire Electric Company – to count ancient hydroelectric plants like the 83 year-old Bagnell Dam towards compliance with the RES.

    Clue: Hydro Power IS Renewable Power. Its perfectly appropriate.

    In addition, HB44 would allow these utilities to purchase “renewable energy credits” from hydropower from anywhere in the world, of any size. If HB44 goes into law, utilities will change nothing about where their power comes from, and instead Missouri ratepayers would literally be subsidizing large hydropower from faraway places like the Hoover.

    In the large picture, it doesn't matter where the power enters the GRID. We've been "wheeling" power for close to a hundred years.
    There isn't wind power everywhere, so getting those areas that do have it to put it on the grid makes sense. If there is nobody living
    in a a windy area, there would be little reason to build a wind farm there unless you could find remote purchasers.

    Your example is seriously flawed. Your understanding of power generation is seriously lacking.
    But I gotta say, your tinfoil hat is bright and shiny.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:16PM (#45912537)

    The research paper is here:

    There are some papers on liquid metal batteries here:

    The problem with any of these systems is that the cost of the raw materials themselves are subject to speculation by the currency markets and investment traders. So the minute, some magic energy storage chemical comes on the market, it is going to become as valuable as gold, and the manufacturing companies are going to be bought up and controlled.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 10, 2014 @11:43AM (#45916905)

    Power companies are trying to op out of solar power subsidies.

    Because the grid is not designed to handle significant amounts of unpredictable single phase power coming from residential customers, at inconvenient times of the day, and it is definitely not designed to pay retail rates for power from any source.

    That's not false, but remember it's completely intentional. A well built network is overprovisioned, as /. readers know from personal experience, but the power grid is not currently well built because of Reaganista cost-cutting and profit-maximizing being prioritized over continual upgrade, expansion and maintenance. From 1988 to 1998 demand grew by 30%, while transmission grew by only 15%; from 1999 to 2009 demand grew by 20% and transmission by only 3%. My local energy provider stopped doing any line maintenance for five years straight - and only restarted two years ago because the annual cost of repairs from fallen limbs had significantly exceeded (by 2x according to their annual report) the cost of maintenance. The current business climate is intentionally shortchanging the future, because the consequences of this are easy to monetize. Energy shortages are a desired end goal, as demonstrated by the intentional bottlenecking of path 15 during the fake California energy crisis [] that everyone blames Enron for (in reality, that situation was created by a vortex of Democrat incompetence, Republican chicanery, and Big Business sociopathy, and Ken Lay was a sacrificial goat).

    It's been empirically proven that adding residential solar increases the capacity and reliability of the grid, but only up to a point. Generation of power closer to points of use and across a distributed network decreases (but does not eliminate) the need for huge, costly transmission lines. Guerilla solar [] has existed for decades, of course, and you may be using power your next-door neighbor illegally placed on the grid right now. Modern non-islanding grid-tie inverters make this a safe and commonplace practice. Saturation is only really possible when you've discontinued hundred-year-old expansion and upkeep plans and defanged public watchdogs through electoral manipulation (such as secret campaign contributions) and political action (such as PAC funding).

    It's cheaper and more profitable to break the system in order to maintain central control than it is to return to the days of utility expansionism and empower distributed production. It's the usual hoary old "socialize risk and privatize profits" strategy; the super-rich power producers inevitably win, just by failing to improve the grid in the name of cost management. Don't think Washington doesn't know this!

    Residential solar uptake in those areas is reaching the saturation point at which the grid simply cannot handle any more without a very serious overhaul, which includes pervasive bulk energy storage.

    Yes. Although the need for the overhaul was exhaustively researched and documented before Jimmy Carter left office, the result of those analyses has been that power generators and service providers have vastly increased the resources they devote to political subornation and regulatory capture, in order to avoid building a system that is beneficial to the human race, because it would make their leadership part of the top 20% middle class instead of part of the top 1% jet set.

    They're fighting back against legislation that requires them to pay for power they cannot use, and increase the rates on the rest of their customers to compensate.

    Exactly. They've built an excuse to do what is the worst possible thing for the human race and for our social and cultu

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats