back to article Murdoch pitches battery for renewables

Many proposals for storing energy from renewable installations like wind farms or large-scale solar energy involve high-temperature technologies like molten salt. Now, researchers from Murdoch University are talking up a more mundane wet-cell battery based on sodium ions. If it could be commercialized, the water-based sodium-ion …

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Coffee/keyboard

Phew...

... I nearly had a cardiocirculatory collapse imagining ol' Rupert involved in serious research.

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Anyone know how this compares to Donald Sadoway's (MIT) LiquidMentalBattery?

He talks about it on TED if you're interested,

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PT

O'Really

Silicon’s chemical properties are similar to lithium? This must be in some strange parallel universe with which I'm not familiar, perhaps one in which the better-known Murdoch's media outlets are ethical.

Silicon's chemical properties are similar to carbon. Lithium's are similar to sodium.

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Re: O'Really

I'd say it was a Francium slip and say someone has Word's auto-incorrect function set to automatically insert silicon as the link to the university website does in fact say sodium and not silicon.

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Childcatcher

Re: O'Really

Silicon?

They used to say "read the question twice before answering". Guess that goes for articles as well.

Urr hum. Sodium....

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Perfect

As long as I can build it into the basement I'm certain I can level the smart metered grid to maintain a level power draw. I imagine besides removing the spy factor it would benefit the grid if the spikes were damped a bit especially during summers when it sags a few volts every hot day after 3 pm. You don't need smart meters all 'round to know the kids are off school and not much concerned about the electric bill.

I will say having one that smart meters are really a bit creepy with being able to look online at every hour of every day and see the spikes in demand and be able to pick out exactly what each one is. For instance I know the missus got home a bit early Monday as it was hot and I could see the spike from the AC; of course that isn't much of a surprise since she has Mondays off and typically does the shopping in the morning followed by lunch with her friend... the hot yoga instructor... yum.

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Re: Perfect

I can't see how AC has time to see your wife.

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Re: Perfect

I don't know either but if it's a three way with the yoga instructor (s)he deserves a gold medal.

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Holmes

Elementary mistake...

The El Reg article keeps saying "silicon" but it should be "sodium".

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Energy density?

Cheap is good, but what is the likely energy density? Enquiring minds...

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Re: Energy density?

For a fixed install density is not high on the priority list. Just fill the inside of a wind turbine tower with them....

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FAIL

Economy of Scale stops at several MW

Murdoch owns tons of wind farms connected to the power grid over power lines that used to run his oil well pumps... apparently he's looking for someone to store his peaking power for him...

Telcos use DC storage systems for primary power of their equipment... 52 vdc at 8000 amps seems to be the upper limit of equipment= 416 kw of power at an 8 hour discharge rate per string...

Most power systems use a max of 3 strings of the 8000 amp batteries or max 1.248Mw at 8 hour rate...

that's it= limits of physics, build another office / floor / building...

Anything above 52 vdc has serious fire issues, 330 vdc the upper limit of any battery, EG= F1 KERS...

Peaking energy storage above several MW uses gravity or kinetic energy for storage...

Gravity= wind farms pump water to an upper level lake, hydropower generators put it on the Grid when needed...

Gravity=solar farms / mirror+stirling gens pump water to upper lake, hydropower gen to grid at night time...

Kinetic= renewables store power in a flywheel, drives generater when it is needed, or night... 50 MW seems to be the upper limit, EG= Williams F1 KERS...

Toyota stores 100 Kw of power in a DC storage capacitor for a 3 second discharge cycle to a motor...

Nuclear power folks in southern England have succeeded recently per BBC in getting wind farms / solar with Gravity storage in upland reservoirs taken out of the planning loop for needed non fossil fuel power grid use...

Exotic batteries do NOT break the 8000 amp limit on battery strings or the 1.2 MW limit of battery plants, and are only good for a few residential homes or a single city building, or, Murdoch should look at hydropower... IMHO

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Boffin

Re: Economy of Scale stops at several MW

Amusing but wrong Murdoch.

<long and mostly irrelevant material skipped>

You need to tell the difference between systems designed to interface to *existing* standards (like telco backup systems), economic limitations (today it just costs too much to build them any bigger), the limits of your knowledge (the flywheel storage systems developed for buses in Switzerland in the 1960s were *much* bigger) and actual *genuine* limitations of the physics these systems implement.

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Would you like to know more?

Can you tell me more about this or provide a few reference links please?

[quote]Nuclear power folks in southern England have succeeded recently per BBC in getting wind farms / solar with Gravity storage in upland reservoirs taken out of the planning loop for needed non fossil fuel power grid use...[/quote]

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Re: Economy of Scale stops at several MW

Sorry about that, saw Murdoch and mind went = oh, Warren Buffet...

Probably shouldn't read this stuff so late at nite, and just retire to bed...

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WTF?

Re: Would you like to know more?

I'm about 1/3 of the world away from you folks so... Several weeks ago, or earlier, the BBC on line service was talking about adding considerable peaking power to Southern Wales??, didn't save it...

The summary of the thing was the order of proposals were= 1. Gas fired plants, 2. Coal fired plants, 3. Nuclear plants, Wind + peaking hydro, Solar + peaking hydro...

right away wind and solar were dismissed as silly... then gas and coal were dismissed as polluting...

Leaving Nuclear as number 1 for planning= at this point pretty much everyone was upset with the whole idea...

As an American, I can only say that works for us...

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Anonymous Coward

What about gallium?

Just a thought, a gallium iron phosphate battery would be feasible in theory.

The chemistry of iron phosphate allows for several different atoms to occupy the gaps in its structure so anything with similar bonding should work.

Magnesium iron phosphate cells are being developed as we speak, along the same lines.

The sticking point is that the special graphite needed has to be correctly formulated, which is ongoing research.

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Meh

Re: What about gallium?

Looked up the price of Gallium lately?

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Anonymous Coward

mirrors+sterlings

hi roger,any more info about anyone using mirrors+sterlings in the real world? .

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mirrors+sterlings

FYI, Stirlings from the Reverend are not made of silver.

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Unhappy

Re: mirrors+sterlings

keep forgetting its 2012 and american politics have killed anything that isn't fossil fuels power by congress defunding alternative energy projects...

WIKI= Stirling Energy Systems, this is now defunct due to 2011 Congressional defunding...

California mandated the alternative energy sources to provide 20 percent of power needed in the state...

WIKI= Mojave Solar Park, get a list of USA solar projects...

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Meh

Interesting news, Richard,

but your source is rather short on specifics - while it claims « a safe, cost-effective battery with high energy density», it provides no figures at all. I realise that Walter Murdoch was not related to Keith Rupert, but could there be a common aversion to quantification lurking there ?...

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

Reducing the power consumption of of gizmos, gadgets and devices should be hand in hand with battery development.

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Anonymous Coward

Obviously,

power consumption from gizmos and gadgets is fairly insignificant when compared to cooking,heating, AC and industrial use...

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52V

Isn't a limit for fire. It's a limit above which most jurisdictions require full electrical training - and with good reason.

It's also about as high as you can go without getting zapped off exposed wiring if your hand goes across it(*) - and there's a lot of exposed wiring in a telephone exchange MDF (especially the old-school ones)

(*) It still hurts if you have wet hands.

If you're storing for power distribution/inversion/etc then strings up to 600V are common but require _extreme_ care. DC isn't nearly as forgiving as AC(**) when things go wrong, which is part of the reason there aren't many 250/600V DC installations anymore (most of them went away in the 1930s)

(**) Edison was killing about 5 linemen a week on his "safe" 110VDC lines at the same time as he was decrying Tesla's AC system as being unsafe and demonstrating by electrocuting stray dogs.

The batteries in a lot of hybrids run to 600+VDC. Fire services and other emergency callout people are having to go through a bunch of training to ensure they appreciate the hazards involved and the criticality of ensuring the battery pack is isolated before attempting crash rescues.

FWIW: Properly maintained lead-acid traction batteries aren't particularly toxic and they're 95% recyclable at end of life - which is a _long_ time if properly maintained. If sodium batteries can go 20-30 years then they'll be a good competitor.

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Re: 52V

Didn't Edison also electrocute an elephant in New York, to prove how unsafe AC was? Dishonest, yes - but still an amazing publicity stunt.

Not that he was a weirdo or anything...

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"the sodium’s ion size means a “salt-based” battery won’t be turning up in portable gadgets"

Shit, that must be one seriously big ion!

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Go

You can press your bedsheets with it!

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