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By Tom Rickey, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
RICHLAND, Wash.—Scientists have created a battery designed for the electric grid that locks in energy for months without losing much storage capacity.
The development of the “freeze-thaw battery,” which freezes its energy for use later, is a step toward batteries that can be used for seasonal storage: saving energy in one season, such as the spring, and spending it in another, like autumn.
The prototype is small, about the size of a hockey puck. But the potential usefulness of the science behind the device is vast, foretelling a time when energy from intermittent sources, like sunshine and wind, can be stored for a long time. The work by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was published online March 23 in Cell Reports Physical Science.
“Longer-duration energy storage technologies are important for increasing the resilience of the grid when incorporating a large amount of renewable energy,” said Imre Gyuk, director of Energy Storage at DOE’s Office of Electricity, which funded the work. “This research marks an important step toward a seasonal battery storage solution that overcomes the self-discharge limitations of today’s battery technologies.”