Off-grid living is becoming increasingly popular as people become more aware of the environmental and economic benefits. One of the most important components of an off-grid home is a reliable battery storage system. In this blog post, we will explore the changing technology of battery storage in off-grid homes featuring some exciting new innovations and research.
Lithium-Ion Has Been the Go-To Battery
Lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly popular over the past decade due to their relatively long cycle life and large energy storage capacity.
However, lithium-ion batteries come with some major downsides. One of the major issues with using lithium-ion batteries is that they can only be discharged a certain number of times before they reach their maximum lifespan. Another downside is that they can be very expensive to replace.
Cobalt, a vital component of most lithium-ion batteries, is mined using some really poor practices. It has a heavy impact to the environment, is very labor intensive to extract, and can cause an array of health problems for the miners. This has led researchers to hunt for better alternatives.
An Efficient Structural Battery
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have made a major breakthrough in the field of energy storage – their new ‘structural’ battery is ten times more effective than any previous version.
What do they mean by ‘structural’? This new battery contains carbon fiber that can serve as an electrode, conductor, and load-bearing material at the same time. Meaning, the battery can add to the structure of the home or vehicle while powering it.
This incredibly innovative development is set to revolutionize the way we store energy and make it more ‘massless’, paving the way for more widespread use.
Improving Sodium-ion batteries
Some researchers have been looking at sodium-ion batteries as a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
There have been some struggles with developing sodium-ion batteries as a replacement battery. On the one hand, sodium, although similar to lithium in its physicochemical properties, is both economical and sustainable. The problem with sodium is the size of its ions and its tenuous diffusion kinetics stop the ions’ integration into the microstructures of graphite anodes, resulting in insufficient storage capacity and structural instability.
To overcome these difficulties, heteroatom-doped carbonaceous materials have been explored. Despite their promising outcomes, they are hard to prepare, and it takes a lot of time and money.
Recently, Professor Seung Geol Lee from Pusan National University in Korea spearheaded a research team in forging carbonaceous sodium-ion battery anodes from quinacridones precursors.
What are quinacridones? Quinacridones are organic compounds that we typically use as a pigment. A fusion of acridone and quinoline, they have many different derivatives and are used in everything from tattoo ink to printer toner.
The research team took 2, 9-dimethyl quinacridone and burned it at 600°C. Then they analyzed the resulting charred material for the structure, by-products released, rate capability, and cycle stability to determine the ability of quinacridones to act as anode materials in sodium-ion batteries.
“Organic pigments such as quinacridones can be used as anode materials in sodium-ion batteries,” Professor Lee told Science Daily, “Given the high efficiency, they will provide an effective strategy for mass production of large-scale energy storage systems”.