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Just add salt for reliable clean power


Researchers at Stanford have developed a new battery that could better harness the intermittent power of renewable energy.

In a study reported in Nature Energythe small prototype water-based battery, which generates about as much energy as an LED flashlight, has the potential to be built to an industrial scale and last for a decade.

“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,” explained Yi Cui, a professor of materials science at Stanford and senior author on the paper.

This chemical reaction could, he says, ‘be one of the missing pieces in the nation’s energy puzzle’. Cui added that ‘given the water-based battery’s expected lifespan, it would cost a penny to store enough electricity to power a 100 watt lightbulb for twelve hours’.

The Stanford professor now plans to set up a company to commercialise the product.

And according to other research, also conducted by a Stanford team, battery storage will be a key component in supporting 139 countries shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

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