Next-generation batteries

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Next-generation batteries

New battery chemistries that represent a higher energy capacity are being developed in li-ion batteries. Li-ion batteries that can double the capacity of current batteries, last up to 20 years and charge in minutes, often while cutting costs, are being introduced to the market. A few examples of such new technologies are li-ion sulphur, li-ion solid state, li-ion metal, li-ion silicon, li-ion cobalt oxide, li-ion manganese oxide and li-ion phosphate. Batteries based on li-ion solid-state chemistries could revolutionize battery technology for electric vehicles, grid storage and much more.

Other advanced next-gen battery types have varying degrees of research and development, and are at different levels of marketability. Li-ion batteries remain the most prominent in today’s market. However, sodium-ion batteries represent a much cheaper, more abundant material that could produce a less expensive battery with similar performance to li-ion.

Flow batteries, such as vanadium flow and zinc-iron redox flow, have a long battery life (up to 20 years), quickly charge and discharge, and scale up from under 1 MW to over 10 MW easily. Vanadium flow batteries have high capacity storage, can be idle when solar and wind aren’t producing and then discharge instantly. They have the unique ability to charge and discharge simultaneously and to release large amounts of electricity quickly. As they are inexpensive to scale up, vanadium flow batteries represent an opportunity for reliable, affordable large-scale energy storage.

Lithium-vanadium phosphate batteries are a next generation battery solution which shows promise, as they can extend the range of electric cars to compete with gasoline ones. These batteries not only have greater power than batteries found in the latest electric vehicles (such as lithium-manganese oxide), but also greater safety than the batteries found in cell phones and laptops. In addition, recharging lithium-vanadium batteries is faster than batteries currently used in EV’s.

Unlike vanadium flow batteries, which currently supply a great battery alternative, lithium-air batteries mostly theoretically represent a great battery alternative. Lithium-air batteries could triple the range of electric cars and could give electric cars the same range as gasoline ones. However, whereas vanadium flow batteries can charge and discharge repetitively with no problem, lithium-air batteries have been notoriously difficult to re-charge.

New batteries are being made from everything from graphene & silicon, magnesium & zinc, sodium & aluminum, manganese & vanadium – all which show great promise. As well, there are "superconductors", various metal or air-flow type batteries and combinations such as lithium sulfur, lithium nickel-manganese-cobalt and lithium tininate oxide. Solid electrolyte batteries are also quickly gaining ground both in terms of R&D, as well as deployment.

 Advancements in next-gen batteries will help add renewable energy storage to the grid, get used in our homes, cell phones and laptops, and help extend the range of electric cars to compete with gasoline ones.