Our national electric grid has limited ability to store excess energy, so electricity must constantly be over-generated to assure reliable supply. Though wind and solar power are promising clean alternatives to fossil fuels, their natural unpredictability and intermittency make them incapable of delivering the power on demand necessary to operate today’s grid. The U.S. needs technologies that can cost effectively store renewable energy for future grid use at any location. Flexible, large-scale storage would create a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Materials & Systems Research, Inc. (MSRI) is developing a high-strength, low-cost solid-state electrolyte membrane structure for use in advanced grid-scale sodium batteries. The electrolyte, a separator between the positive and negative electrodes, carries charged materials called ions. In the solid electrolyte sodium batteries, sodium ions move through the solid-state ceramic electrolyte. This electrolyte is normally brittle, expensive, and difficult to produce because it is formed over the course of hours in high-temperature furnaces. With MSRI’s design, this ceramic electrolyte will be produced cheaply within minutes by single-step coating technologies onto high-strength support materials. The high-strength support material provides excellent structural integrity, much superior to the conventional cell design, which depends solely on the brittle ceramic material for its strength. The resulting stronger, cheaper sodium battery design will enable a new generation of low-cost, safe, and reliable batteries for grid-scale energy storage applications.
If successful, MSRI’s advanced sodium battery would achieve the system capital cost target of $100/kWh coupled with at least a 10% increase in efficiency, enabling affordable grid-scale energy storage for renewable power sources.
A more efficient and reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions.
Electricity generation accounts for over 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Enabling large-scale contributions of wind and solar power for our electricity generation would result in a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions.
Increases in the availability of wind and solar power would reduce fossil fuel demand, resulting in reduced fuel prices and more stable electricity rates.