Nanosize batteries could significantly improve green energy storage

November 21, 2014 0 By Amanda Giasson

Nanotechnology is the future of batteries.

Nanosize batteries that are 80,000 times thinner than a single strand of human hair could be very promising future green energy storage solutions because they have the potential to store more energy for personal electronics, buildings, and cars, reported National Geographic.

The miniscule battery can recharge numerous times and fully charge in just over 10 minutes.

The breakthrough in battery technology has been in the creation of a “nanopore”, which is a hole in a ceramic sheet that is no thicker than a grain of salt and is comprised of all of the necessary components required by a battery to generate electric current. A billion of these nanopores combined like a honeycomb could fit on a standard sized postage stamp.

The director of Argonne National Laboratory’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, George Crabtree, said that “It looks like a major advance.” He explained that nanopores provide many advantages. Due to the fact that they are identical, once researchers can identify the best size, consistent results can be guaranteed and grid-scale use will become more promising.

According to the researchers at the University of Maryland, who recently published their nanotechnology battery findings in Nature Nanotechnology, a peer-reviewed journal, the tiny batteries charge to full capacity within 12 minutes and can be recharged thousands of times.

Eleanor Gillette, a co-author and a doctoral candidate in chemistry, commented that they “were blown away by the performance.” Gillette believes that the batteries ability to rapidly charge is because to carry the electric current, only short distances are required. She added that nanosizing could allow manufacturers to compress multiple batteries into a tight space.

Less expensive and better batteries are needed to improve green energy solutions.

Renewable energy and electric vehicles are considered to be two important solutions for climate change. However, in order for these clean alternatives to achieve widespread use, they require cheaper and improved batteries. For instance, in order for utilities to be able to rely on renewable power sources like solar and wind energy, they will require back-up energy storage for times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine.

However, despite this recent breakthrough in nanotechnology, commercializing the research will not be easy or fast. Presently, many of the materials or assemblies needed for nanoscale batteries are far too costly to be used outside of niche applications. Furthermore, current low natural gas and oil prices have decreased the demand for green energy, such as renewable sources like solar and wind that need grid-scale backup batteries.