MIT Professor Don Sadoway, an expert in materials chemistry, brought his astonishing battery idea to the recent talks at TED 2012: Full Spectrum. While most new battery inventions target spaces inside smartphones or electric cars, Sadoway’s idea is big. Gigantic, in fact. He and his team have invented a Liquid Metal Battery that could be a warehouse-size repository of energy generated by renewable and other power resources. Watch his TED talk for an accessible explanation of the battery and its potential uses.
Here are some ideas from his talk:
“The electricity powering the lights in this theater was generated just moments ago,” Sadoway told his audience. “The way things stand today, the electricity demand must be constantly in perfect balance with electricity supplied.” And if power is interrupted, electricity from other sources must be available right away. That means redundant power supplies must operate constantly in case of need and that’s not cheap.
“With a giant battery, we could address the problem of intermittency that prevents wind and solar from contributing to the grid in the same way that coal and gas and nuclear do today. The battery is the key enabling device. With it, we could draw electricity from the sun, even when the sun does not shine, and that could change everything because the renewables such as wind and solar could come out from the wings and here to center stage. ”
The Liquid Metal Battery, a new form of energy storage invented by Sadoway and his lab, could solve that problem, he says.
“If we are going to get our country out of the current energy situation, we can’t just conserve our way out, we can’t just drill our way out, we can’t bomb our way out,” he says.” We are going to do it the old-fashioned American way—we are going to invent our way out working together.”
Learn more about Sadoway’s “extreme electrochemistry” research.