Scientists at Murdoch University have found a way to store electricity generated from solar panels in a water and salt based battery. Currently deep cycle lithium batteries are the battery of choice for solar panel and wind turbine energy storage. These batteries are needed to store energy on cloudy or windless days and they have a short life span while being way too expensive.
You may know already just from how many times you have to replace batteries in your Wii remote control that batteries are expensive and must be replaced every so often. Even my laptop battery has to be replaced about once a year and costs me about $125 a pop. The depletion of a solar panel deep cycle battery is around 4 – 8 years depending on how well it is maintained. For a 26,000 watt deep cycle battery bank you are looking at spending $16,000. You could feasibly use something like this to live off-grid but imagine that every 4 – 8 paying that kind of price tag?
For the most part solar energy has been cost prohibitive because deep cycle batteries cost too much. Solar panels cost too much also but if you could dramatically lower the cost of deep cycle batteries or solar panel prices you would really have something people could work with to actually save money on energy and save the environment as a good side benefit.
The new salt battery technology can be used in place of the more expensive lithium-ion batteries to store solar and wind energy. This energy that is stored is simply to allow for its use when the sun is no longer out and the wind isn’t blowing. By having the power stored it can be used during times where power is cannot be generated.
A low-cost battery gives you the ability to live off-grid at day or night and not have to worry about the high cost of a battery that will soon have an ended life and need to be replaced once again for the cost of a moderately priced car, ouch!
Dr. Manickam Minakshi and Dr. Danielle Meyrick believe the salt based battery has commercial use applications in the solar and wind energy business to allow for stored energy to feed into the electric grid when demand requires it.
Because salt is a cheap plentiful resource on earth this is great news for the environment and for man’s unending need for low-cost energy. This battery is called a water-based sodium-ion battery and is the most affordable low-temperature based battery ever created for the purpose of storing off-grid electric power.
Currently the deep cycle batteries you get now use rare earth minerals and compounds like molten sulfur and liquid metals. The scientists used manganese dioxide as the cathode and a novel olivine sodium phosphate as the anode which offered the best results compared to the lithium-ion battery.