hydrogen battery
Image credit: Stock

Stanford scientists have developed a manganese-hydrogen battery that could fill a missing piece in the nation’s energy puzzle by storing wind and solar energy for when it is needed, lessening the need to burn carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Stanford researchers have developed a water-based battery that could provide a cheap way to store wind or solar energy generated when the sun is shining and wind is blowing, so it can be fed back into the electric grid and be redistributed when demand is high.

The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery stands just three inches tall and generates a mere 20 milliwatt hours of electricity, which is on par with the energy levels of LED flashlights that hang on a key ring.

Despite the prototype’s diminutive output, the researchers are confident they can scale up this table-top technology to an industrial-grade system that could charge and recharge up to 10,000 times, creating a grid-scale battery with a useful lifespan well in excess of a decade.

Yi Cui, a professor of materials science at Stanford, said : “What we’ve done is thrown a special salt into water, dropped in an electrode, and created a reversible chemical reaction that stores electrons in the form of hydrogen gas.

“We believe this prototype technology will be able to meet Department of Energy (DoE) goals for utility-scale electrical storage practicality.”

The DOE has recommended batteries for grid-scale storage should store and then discharge at least 20 kilowatts of power over a period of an hour, be capable of at least 5,000 recharges, and have a useful lifespan of 10 years or more. To make it practical, such a battery system should cost $2,000 or less, or $100 per kilowatt hour.

Visit Stanford's website for further details.