Researchers Develop Sea-Salt Battery 4 Times the Capacity of Lithium

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Sea-Salt Battery

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia has developed a sodium-sulphur battery with four times the energy storage capacity of batteries that are powered by rare earth metals such as lithium, graphite and cobalt.

With the research having been led by Dr. Shenlong Zhao from the University of Sydney, and serving as a breakthrough for renewable energy, the sodium-sulphur battery, which is developed through the use of molten salt that can be processed from sea water, is cheaper and more energy efficient than existing options.

“When the sun isn’t shining and the breeze isn’t blowing, we need high-quality storage solutions that don’t cost the Earth and are easily accessible on a local or regional level,” stated Dr. Zhoa, adding, “Storage solutions that are manufactured using plentiful resources like sodium – which can be processed from sea water – also have the potential to guarantee greater energy security more broadly and allow more countries to join the shift towards decarbonization.”

Designed specifically as a solution for large-scale renewable energy storage systems, the sodium-sulphur battery uses a pyrolysis process with carbon-based electrodes, which serve to improve the reactivity of sulphur. The research team is now looking at methods to scale the battery technology for commercialization as well as for use in the automotive industry.

For Africa, technologies such as this represent a significant opportunity for the continent to amplify its transition to renewable energy resources. Rich with a variety of green energy, most of which remains largely untapped and in need of investment, many countries have introduced ambitious diversification policies that would see renewables take up a much larger share of the energy mix.

While the continent boasts significant lithium deposits, shortages in global markets due to the reliance of the supply chain on Chinese manufacturers continues to limit renewable adoption in Africa. Therefore, while the continent develops its own manufacturing capacities, technologies such as the sodium-sulphur batteries could offer African countries the chance to accelerate the transition to a cleaner energy future while establishing the adequate storage capacity the continent needs to ensure consistent supply.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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