Liquid metal batteries could solve future energy challenges: visiting expert

The growing
energy needs of densely-populated cities could be met through liquid metal
batteries installed in skyscrapers, a visiting energy expert has said.

Australian Financial Review reports that Donald Sadoway, the John F Elliott
Professor of Materials Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, has said possible shortages in New York City could result from a
lack of capacity in the power lines between Manhattan and New York State.

“There is plenty of electricity generated in the New York
area but it’s not on the island of Manhattan and predictions suggest that by
2016 at present growth rates the demand will exceed the ­capabilities of the
existing transmission lines,” The AFR reports Sadoway as saying.

Sadoway is the co-founder of Boston-based company, Ambri, which is expected to start
delivering its novel long-life, low-cost cell technology late this year or in

The batteries are advertised as having a working life of 300
years and retaining over 99 per cent of initial storage capacity after 10 years
of continuous use.

According to the company, the batteries are unique in
including “two liquid electrodes [which] are separated by a molten salt
electrolyte, and these liquid layers float on top of each other based on
density differences and immiscibility”

Early backers of the company include Microsoft’s Bill Gates.

Last week Sadoway visited Canberra, discussing a possible
research partnership with Australian National University, proposing a battery
test site in Hay, western NSW, and a potential $50 million manufacturing hub in

“My vision of global coverage would mean batteries for the Australian
market would most optimally be built in Australia by Australians,” The Canberra Times reports Sadoway as saying.

“We need to have a domestic partner who understands what we’re doing
and it’s time to start exploring.”