A new battery that uses low-cost materials like sodium and magnesium could bring the cost of storing power from renewable sources more affordable. The new device's energy density was also found close to that of lithium-ion batteries.
Storing electric power from wind and sun for days when the air is still or the sun is down remains a challenge, largely due to cost. Today, lithium-ion batteries are the storage technology of choice for many applications, from electric cars to smartphones.
But the $3,000 price tag for the pack itself plus installation costs put it out of reach for most customers. To make larger-scale energy storage more accessible, Maksym V. Kovalenko and colleagues wanted to develop an affordable alternative to lithium-ion.
The researchers started with magnesium as the battery's safe, inexpensive and high-energy density anode material and paired it with pyrite, which is made of iron and sulphur, as the cathode. The electrolyte -- the electrically conducting component -- contains sodium and magnesium ions.
It could get an additional two- to three-fold boost with further development of magnesium electrolytes, researchers said. And because it is made with low-cost materials, it could one day help support grid-scale energy storage, the researchers said. The findings were published in ACS' journal Chemistry of Materials.