Batteries: The New Star of Science


 Courtesy: MD. BADRUL AHSAN TAMAL, Batch-191, Department of EEE, Green University of Bangladesh.

Battery technology in its simplest form dates back more than two centuries. These can be found in all shapes and sizes: lead-acid, nickel-iron, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, etc. Nowadays mostly Lithium-ion batteries are being used. They can be found in everything from iPhones to medical devices to planes to the international space station or look around you may find one.

Batteries hold the key over fossil fuel dependence and can play a greater role in the coming decade. Over the last decade, the use of lithium-ion battery production has led to a more than an 85% decline in prices. Making electric vehicles and energy storage commercially viable for the first time in history only because of lithium-ion batteries. 

In 2000-2010, the first revolutionized technology, batteries powered our phones and some electronic appliances. By the end of the decade, they started to power our cars and houses too. In 2020, for the first time in history, electric vehicles became commercially available e.g., including a second version of the Roadster, a semi-trailer truck, and a pickup truck, the Cybertruck. The next step defines the next decade. (Barbara A. Schreiber, 2021)

Only batteries hold the future for the renewable-fueled world. But without effective energy storage techniques, natural gas and coal are needed for times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t howling. To go on green energy, clean energy we need a utility-scale storage system e.g., Tesla Powerwall. We need utility-scale storage to replace peak demand for the electric grid company

The largest lithium-ion battery installation is located in South Australia and powered by Tesla (100-megawatt capacity).

Renewable energy equipment makers and operators, as well as chemical and materials companies, could also benefit from it. If storage makes wind and solar power, it also becomes more feasible. Costs that remain high are among the reasons preventing a surge in lithium-ion battery grid integration. Another factor is that this specific type of battery may not necessarily prove to be the best suited to storing energy for longer periods of time. They’ve also been known to catch fire, and there are issues with some of the required components like cobalt, almost half of which comes from Congo. Recycling and the environmental impact of metals extraction are other issues to watch.

The next decade depends on new inventions of batteries like the solid-state using sodium, instead of liquid electrolytes. These are on study level and inventors trying to make new types of storage systems. What’s certain is that batteries will play an even larger role in powering our lives going forward. (CNBC, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2021)

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