Charge Me Up! Energy Storage Development – A Fast Emerging Technology Needed for Sustainability

Charge Me Up! Energy Storage Development – A Fast Emerging Technology Needed for Sustainability

by Timothy Foote, Founder of Susymbio

When was the last time you ordered food from a company using an app on your phone? For most people it probably wasn’t that long ago. That said, when was the technology there to even make ordering from an app possible? The answer would definitely be within the last 10 years. Before that, all the needed elements would not yet have been in place.

That is not to say that one could not see the future coming. The first iPhone only came out in 2007 – ushering in smart phone apps and all the rest in very quick succession. For transportation and logistics – the revolution to decarbonize is likewise well underway.

As a sustainable logistics consultant I’m often reading up on how technology is evolving in the energy sector. Sustainable energy is needed in our energy grids in order to truly make our battery-operated machines emissions free. This month I wanted to shed a light on emerging battery technology.

Fossil fuel proponents like to claim that oil and coal are the only “rainy day” energy source out there. This has not only been reinforced by recent world events – it’s also being destroyed in the lab by teams of people coming up with ways to simply store wind and solar power cheaper and cheaper.

The Energy Grid

Batteries that store variable renewable energy (VRE) like wind and solar power are making many headlines. A recent report in AZO Cleantech goes into the detail on how promising research showed aluminum-sulfur battery design has really come along. Researchers at MIT have figured out how to make a new battery with abundant and cheap base materials. The real chemical secret to make aluminum and sulfur work together this way seems to be in the type of molten salt they use as an electrolyte. Sulfur is the cheapest of all non-metals. Aluminum is the second most available metal in the world marketplace of metals. What is left for the research team and their partners is to move the tech up to industrial scale storage prototypes. The work here is ongoing.

Sand, of all things is also in the energy storage mix! It may not sound “high” tech – but it is new – and it is very attractive for companies that want to store energy when it is being generated in abundance and then later get the energy’s heat back. BBC reported recently on how this was being applied in Finland for storing wind and solar power in a community using 100 tons of low-grade sand and a giant, silo looking storage building. Amazingly the energy from the wind and solar power heats the sand up to 500 degrees Celsius. That heat is then used in the form of hot air to heat homes and pools. It is also attractive for industrial uses like food, pharmaceuticals, and textile production.

Electric Transportation

On the vehicle side too there is serious R&D going on now to make LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries just as power packed as the lithium ion battery. According to an article I read in Automotive News, this is driven by USA’s need for more battery raw materials from more secure origins. The technology is there and being developed rapidly to ensure that LFP batteries will start selling alongside lithium-ion batteries in much greater volumes.

In addition to the benefit of keeping up with the demand for the sheer volume of batteries that will be needed to transition to green – the LFP batteries also have advantages for safety. they can last longer – which lowers total costs of ownership of electric vehicles further. Another nice thing is that they perform better at high temperatures (nice for Southeast Asia).

If given support clever people can build our power grid structure into a sustainable one. We are seeing the results slowly but surely. Let’s do our part and propel our industry into the new technologies. Press our energy suppliers for more sustainable energy in the grid. The tech is there and it is developing fast.

About the Author” heading_tag=”h3″ alignment=”left” sub_heading_style=”font-style:italic;” margin_design_tab_text=””]

Tim Foote runs Susymbio, a boutique consulting firm. He advises clients on green logistical solutions and provides sustainability program management services. Tim has worked in management positions at multiple MNCs for more than 25 years, gaining expansive expertise in logistical operations. Tim has crafted delivery solutions for many e-commerce and freight forwarding clients. He has also managed the supply chains for both bulk and consumer chemical companies.

As DHL eCommerce’s first Asia Pacific Head of Go Green, he put in place various programs, including carbon footprint management, sustainability training and illegal wildlife smuggling monitoring.

Tim volunteers his free-time with the Singapore Wildcat Action Group, a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness and funds for wildlife conservation.

 

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