New Battery Technology

In addition to lithium, there are other substances and other processes that can be used as batteries to store and deliver energy. This new battery technology is still in the lab stage, although some are already installed and operational.

With the electrification of the automotive industry and the continuous development of renewable energies, lithium has become a protagonist and a priority for large research and development projects. However, it seems that this material has reached the end of its potential.

Beyond lithium, the demand for materials and systems for the storage and supply of energy is higher than one might imagine.

This results in batteries that can serve as power sources for electric vehicles, as well as batteries that can power small electronic devices, or city-wide networks.

The solutions provided by this new battery technology are enormous: they include batteries based on sand, carbon dioxide, heat and water, and others, perhaps even more surprising.

New Battery Technology
New Battery Technology

New Battery Technology with Sand

A Finnish startup called Polar Night Energy uses a new battery technology with units made of sand to heat buildings in Kankaanpää. The battery is shaped like a tower and contains 100 tons of sand. The sand is heated to around 500°C using renewable energy.

Wind energy is widely used to generate electricity, and solar energy is used, especially in summer. The sand stays warm for about three months, enough for long, cold winters.


Calcium Battery

A team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, has proposed calcium ions as a greener, more efficient, and cheaper energy storage alternative to lithium ions. “We are investigating an inexpensive, abundant, safe, and sustainable battery chemistry that uses calcium ions in an aqueous electrolyte solution” Rensselaer engineering professor Nikhil Koratkar explained in a press release.

Although the larger size and higher charge density of calcium ions compared to lithium impair diffusion kinetics and cycle stability, Koratkar and his team proposed an oxide structure as a possible solution.

Since calcium ions are divalent, it donate two electrons for each ion over the life of the battery. It provides high efficiency with reduced mass and volume of calcium ions.

However, its higher ionic charge and larger size compared to lithium make it difficult for calcium ions to insert into the battery electrodes.

To overcome this problem, Koratkar explains the development of special materials called molybdenum and vanadium oxides, which contain large hexagonal and heptagonal channels running through the material.


New Battery Technology Based on Carbon Dioxide

Energy Dome has completed a pilot test installation in Sardinia, Italy. This new battery technology based on carbon dioxide can store the energy needed to power the grid for 10 hours at less than half the cost of a lithium-ion battery system.

CO2 has the ability to condense and is stored as a liquid under pressure and at room temperature. The “charging” process involves storing carbon dioxide in a large reservoir at atmospheric temperature and pressure, and compressing it into a liquid using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

The resulting heat heats liquid CO2 into gas, which is passed through a turbine and “discharged” in the process to produce electricity. The CO2 returns to the dome where it remains until the next charge cycle.


Heat Battery

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cell that converts heat into electricity by passively capturing high-energy photons from a heat source.

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is 40% more efficient than traditional steam engines.

According to the MIT news bureau, the plan is to integrate POS cells into grid-scale thermal batteries so that the system absorbs excess power from renewable sources such as solar power and stores it in an intensely heated environment.

When electricity is needed, such as on a cloudy day, the TPV cells convert the heat into electricity that is sent to the grid.

New Battery Technology
New Battery Technology

New Battery Technology with Water

Alsym Energy is developing a battery that uses manganese oxide for the cathode, rather than nickel, cobalt, or lithium, and a non-lithium metal oxide for the anode. Eliminating them, the company explains, can avoid problems related to the availability and cost of each of these materials. The electrolyte consists mainly of water and does not require the use of organic solvents. Non-flammable and non-toxic materials make this battery greener and safer as there is no risk of ignition or fire.


The batteries are designed for electric vehicles and other applications. Alsym has engaged Synergy Marine, a Singapore-based ship management service provider, to collaborate on a dedicated application for the shipping industry. Alsym will supply Synergy and Nissen Kaiun with “1 GW of batteries per year for three years. Battery systems must meet key performance levels and specific regulatory requirements for cargo ships and tankers.”


Another “Water Battery”

To date, the largest example of a water battery is the “Nant de Dance battery” in the Swiss canton of Valais. Its components are the Vieux Emosson Reservoir, which has a storage capacity of 25 million cubic meters (more than 6,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools), and downstream the first Emosson Reservoir, the second largest in Switzerland, with a 600-meter-long reservoir. .

Between the two reservoirs are six turbines, each capable of producing 150 megawatts of electricity. When sufficient renewable energy is available, turbines are used to pump water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir; when necessary, the water is returned to the lower reservoir through turbines to generate electricity.

According to Nant de Dance, the giant battery has an energy storage capacity of 20 million kWh, equivalent to the energy storage capacity of 400,000 electric car batteries.

New Battery Technology Using Gravity


Dutch heavy equipment developer Huisman Manufacturing is teaming up with Gravicity, an Edinburgh, Scotland-based start-up, to create a gravity battery system. The concept involves a tower or mineshaft with heavy objects suspended from it.

As in the sand and water-based example above, renewable energy is used to drive a winch to lift the weight; when power is needed, the weight is gradually reduced by generating electricity.

Wooden Battery

Stora Enso, a producer of paper and renewable construction, and packaging products, is working with Northvolt to develop wood batteries with wood anodes made from solid wood carbon produced and extracted from trees.

Stora Enso holds the patent for various uses of lignin, which they commercially call Lignode. The company has the key components and expertise they need to make this project possible. The company obtains the necessary materials by developing its sustainably managed forests. Northvolt will be responsible for leading the design of the cell, the development of the manufacturing process, and the eventual scale-up of the technology.


A New Battery Technology: Lithium Sulfide

A research team from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology claims to have found the key to the industrial production of long-lasting lithium sulfide batteries. These batteries are the key to radically expanding the range of cars, planes, cell phones, and other devices that require electricity to function. According to Dr. Hui Zhang, one of the lead researchers responsible for the discovery, “Lithium sulfide batteries can store more energy than lithium-ion batteries that are already commercially available.” On the contrary, due to the high storage density, these batteries can easily extend autonomy by 150%. Mobile phone usage time will be improved from a few days to five days. They claim that these batteries not only offer higher energy density, making them lighter at the same charge potential. But also take less time to charge and can be used for years without reducing storage capacity.

How does it work?

According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature, the key lies in the new hybrid material that they created using nanotechnology. The new material consists of titanium dioxide and titanium nitride, an extremely hard ceramic material commonly used as a coating on titanium alloys and other metals. The combination of these two materials used for the carbon nanotube structure could solve a major problem in the production of these batteries: the formation of polysulfides, which limit the useful life of the batteries.

Using 10-nanometer-thick titanium nitride managed to trap unwanted polysulfides, they said. Titanium dioxide, deposited in 5-nanometer layers, accelerated the conversion reaction of lithium polysulfides in the final battery assembly.

Another researcher of this production method, Dr. Luis Ono, confirms that the method is cheap and easy to implement: “We discovered that it has a great capacity to improve battery performance.”

New Battery Technology
New Battery Technology

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