Water-Based Batteries From Australia Could Be Perfect for Solar and Wind Farms

Water-Based Batteries From Australia Could Be Perfect for Solar and Wind Farms

Researchers at RMIT University in Victoria have developed a water-based battery system that could be perfect for large-scale applications, such as solar and wind farms.

We’re seeing a lot of interesting solutions in the renewable space to cut down on rare earths and critical mineral dependence (because, while some of these materials can be quite rare, mining for them has a noteworthy impact on the environment). Mushrooms, for example, could be perfect for replacing some parts inside of batteries.

Now, it turns out that a water battery could be perfect for renewable energy storage – as in, for storing the unused energy produced by solar and wind farms.

“What we design and manufacture are called aqueous metal-ion batteries – or we can call them water batteries,” lead researcher Distinguished Professor Tianyi Ma said. “Addressing end-of-life disposal challenges that consumers, industry and governments globally face with current energy storage technology, our batteries can be safely disassembled and the materials can be reused or recycled.”

The batteries can’t catch on fire or explode, and they’re built without any lithium. Rather, water replaces the critical mineral to flow energy between terminals.

The research team claims that mass production of this technology is feasible, given the simplicity of their design. Beyond water, zinc and magnesium are also used in the process, though these minerals are particularly common and fairly safe to use.

At present, the team has built several small-scale test batteries as a proof of concept. These batteries, in the team’s latest research paper, had components coated in Bismuth, to prevent faults and short circuits.

Now, the batteries last as long as comparable commercially available lithium batteries.

“With impressive capacity and extended lifespan, we’ve not only advanced battery technology but also successfully integrated our design with solar panels, showcasing efficient and stable renewable energy storage,” added Ma.

The next step for the researchers is to increase the energy density of the batteries so they can support a greater charge. This is being done by developing new nanomaterials for the electrodes. Their current batteries supposedly have an energy density of about 30 per cent of the latest Tesla car batteries, 75 watt-hours per kilogram.

“As our technology advances, other kinds of smaller-scale energy storage applications such as powering people’s homes and entertainment devices could become a reality,” Ma said.

I, for one, get super excited whenever I see innovations like water batteries. Best of luck to the team at RMIT with continuing the development of this.

Image: RMIT University

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