Renewable energy research: the new potassium-oxygen battery for clean energy storage

An image to illustrate the new battery for clean energy storage
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A more efficient and reliable potassium-oxygen battery for clean energy storage has been built.

Researchers have built a more efficient, more reliable potassium-oxygen battery, a step toward a potential solution for energy storage on the nation’s power grid and longer-lasting batteries in cell phones and laptops.

The benefits of the potassium-oxygen battery

Paul Gilmore, a doctoral candidate in the co-author’s lab, explained: “Oxygen batteries have higher energy density, which means they can improve the range of electric vehicles and battery life of portable electronics, for example, though other challenges must be overcome before potassium-oxygen batteries are viable for these applications.”

The technology for a renewable power grid and energy storage devices

Renewable energy sources do not emit carbon dioxide, so they do not contribute to global warming. However, in order for them to be reliable power sources without relying on them to only provide energy when the sun is shining or the wind blowing, there needs to be an effective method of energy storage.

Vishnu-Baba Sundaresan, the co-author of the study and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State, said: “If you want to go to an all-renewable option for the power grid, you need economical energy storage devices that can store excess power and give that power back out when you don’t have the source ready or working. Technology like this is key, because it is cheap, it doesn’t use any exotic materials, and it can be made anywhere and promote the local economy.”

Sundaresan added: “When it comes to batteries, one size does not fit all. For potassium-oxygen and lithium-oxygen batteries, the cost has been prohibitive to use them as grid power backup. But now that we’ve shown that we can make a battery this cheap and this stable, then it makes it compete with other technologies for grid power backup.”

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