The demand for storage batteries is increasing, both for the storage of renewable energy and to power electric vehicles.
While light-weight batteries are important for portable devices and to a lesser extent, electric vehicles, weight and size constrictions are not as important for many stationary storage options.
Many Australian companies and universities are leading the way in research and development of alternative battery technologies.
These use liquids rather than solids for the cathode and anode of the battery. The energy storage capacity depends on the amount of liquid. So the bigger the volume of liquid, the more energy that can be stored. If more power is needed, a bigger tank of liquid can be fitted to the system. These batteries can be completely discharged without effecting their ability to be recharged. Two different companies in Australia, Redflow and VSUN Energy are developing a zinc –bromine and a vanadium-based flow battery respectively.
Reusing vehicle batteries
Lithium ion batteries used in electric cars are considered to be at the end of their life when they can only be charged to 80% of their original capacity. This is because their driving range is reduced to 80% and anything below this is deemed unacceptable. However, there are other applications where 80% capacity is acceptable. Relectrify is a start-up company that is looking to help facilitate the transitioning of batteries into a second life as affordable and sustainable household energy storage.
You can read more about these and other battery innovations in this article from The Conversation