• 4 minutes Trump has changed into a World Leader
  • 7 minutes China's Economy and Subsequent Energy Demand To Decelerate Sharply Through 2024
  • 8 minutes Indonesia Stands Up to China. Will Japan Help?
  • 10 minutes US Shale: Technology
  • 13 minutes Which emissions are worse?: Cows vs. Keystone Pipeline
  • 17 minutes Shale Oil Fiasco
  • 10 mins Boris Johnson taken decision about 5G Huawei ban by delay (fait accompli method)
  • 15 hours We're freezing! Isn't it great? The carbon tax must be working!
  • 5 hours Phase One trade deal, for China it is all about technology war
  • 8 hours Angela Merkel take notice. Russia cut off Belarus oil supply because they would not do as Russia demanded
  • 1 hour Might be Time for NG Producers to Find New Career
  • 12 hours Environmentalists demand oil and gas companies *IN THE USA AND CANADA* reduce emissions to address climate change
  • 15 hours Prototype Haliade X 12MW turbine starts operating in Rotterdam
  • 10 hours Swedes Think Climate Policy Worst Waste of Taxpayers' Money in 2019
  • 14 hours Wind Turbine Blades Not Recyclable
  • 13 hours Denmark gets 47% of its electricity from wind in 2019
  • 1 day Beijing Must Face Reality That Taiwan is Independent
Alt Text

Could Renewables Overtake Coal In China?

As China continues its long…

Alt Text

Five Clean Energy Trends To Watch In 2020

A mixture of climate policy…

Alt Text

Self-Healing Lithium Batteries Are On The Horizon

Researchers at the University of…

Climate Progress

Climate Progress

Joe Romm is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress, which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called "the indispensable…

More Info

Premium Content

Cheap New Battery Creates Energy from Rusting Iron

A new low-cost, “air-breathing” battery has the capacity to store between eight and 24 hours’ worth of energy.

The rechargeable and eco-friendly battery uses the chemical energy generated by the oxidation of iron plates that are exposed to the oxygen in the air—a process similar to rusting.

“Iron is cheap and air is free,” says Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the University of Southern California (USC). “It’s the future.”

Details about the battery were published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society. Narayan’s patent is pending, and both the federal government and California utilities have expressed interest in the project.

Iron-air batteries have been around for decades—they saw a surge in interest during the 1970s energy crisis, but suffered from a crippling problem: a competing chemical reaction of hydrogen generation that takes place inside the battery (known as hydrolysis) sucked away about 50 percent of the battery’s energy, making it too inefficient to be useful.

Narayan and his team managed to reduce the energy loss down to 4 percent—making iron-air batteries that are about 10 times more efficient than their predecessors. The team did it by adding very small amount of bismuth sulfide into the battery. Bismuth (which happens to be part of the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol and helps give the pink remedy its name) shuts down the wasteful hydrogen generation.

Adding lead or mercury might also have worked to improve the battery’s efficiency, but wouldn’t have been as safe, Narayan says.

“A very small amount of bismuth sulfide doesn’t compromise on the promise of an eco-friendly battery that we started with,” he adds.

The California Renewable Energy Resources Act, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in April 2011, mandates that the state’s utilities must generate 33 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by the end of 2020.

This aggressive push toward renewable energy sources presents utilities with a problem: solar power works great on clear days and wind power is wonderful on windy days, but what can they do when it’s cloudy and calm out? People still need electricity, and won’t wait for the clouds to clear to turn the lights on.

Currently, solar and wind power make up a relatively small part of the energy used in California. In 2009, 11.6 percent of electricity in the state was generated by wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric plants combined. (Large hydroelectric plants accounted for an additional 9.2 percent.)

As such, dips in energy generation from solar and wind power plants can be covered by the more predictable coal-burning grid.

As California moves toward more renewable energy, solar- and wind-power plants will need an effective way of storing large amounts of energy for use during clouding and calm days.

Traditionally, utilities store power by pumping water uphill into reservoirs, which can then release the water downhill to spin electricity-generating turbines as needed. This method is not always practical or even feasible in drought-ridden California, where water resources are already in high demand and open reservoirs can suffer significant losses due to evaporation, Narayan says.

Batteries have typically not been a viable solution for utilities. Regular sealed batteries, like the AAs in your TV remote, are not rechargeable. Lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones and laptops, which are rechargeable, are at least 10 times as expensive as iron-air batteries.

Despite his success, Narayan’s work is still ongoing. His team is working to make the battery store more energy with less material.

Collaborators include additional researchers from USC and Andrew Kindler of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech. Funding for this research came from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, an arm of the US Department of Energy.

By.  Robert Perkins-USC




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage




Leave a comment
  • Jay on September 09 2012 said:
    "Wasteful hydrogen generation"? That's a new one! Maybe flip a coin and figure out whether you want an electric battery or a hydrogen fuel generator.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play