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Surprising Science

New Batteries Will Get Us Off Fossil Fuels

When it come to renewable energy, portable electronics or electric cars, storing energy is a must, and the more we can store, the better. Batteries are essential to sustainable energy.

What’s the Latest Development?

If renewable energies are ever to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, we must find efficient ways of storing the energy until we are ready to use it. In other words, batteries will be an essential technology for the future, as important as renewable energy itself. Several new technologies are under way: A Pittsburgh company is taking the lesson of sustainability to heart. It’s grid storage battery system is made of saltwater, cotton, charcoal and dirt. Originally designed for wind and solar farms, the battery could also augment diesel generators.

What’s the Big Idea?

Automobiles will also need better battery technology if personal transportation is to remain feasible. Currently, lithium-ion fuel cells that depend on a liquid electrolyte solution risk catching fire and are less efficient that a solid battery state. “Toyota announced recently that its own solid state battery with a 600-mile range will be ready for roll-out sometime around 2015.” A distant goal is a lithium air battery which would promise a range of 1,000 miles. To date, however, the technology has proven unstable as lithium ignites when it contacts moist air.

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