New liquid metal battery is expected to achieve grid-level energy storage

The goal of the researchers was to develop a liquid metal battery (LMB) concept based on static molten salt without the use of ion-selective membranes. The materials that researchers are exploring are relatively abundant and inexpensive, and have less impact on the environment. The implementation of these new concepts in liquid metal batteries will help to make the current density higher and safer than existing molten salt battery systems, and to achieve a lower cost manufacturing system.

To avoid reactions between zinc ions and sodium electrodes, the researchers placed porous separators or separators between the electrodes. Due to the use of inexpensive and durable membrane materials, the expensive β-alumina ion selective membranes, which are brittle and cracked, are replaced, thereby significantly improving the performance of liquid metal cells while also reducing costs.

The researchers chose to use immiscible electrolytes and electrodes to help ensure a safe battery system that can be discharged in the unlikely event of a mechanical failure without any undesired effects such as fire or explosion. This is comparable to sodium-sulfur (NaS) molten salt batteries that have proven to be useful for power grid storage; however, sodium ion-selective membranes must be used for NaS molten salt batteries, but this adds a lot of expense and impedance to the batteries, and in the event of a cracked film There will be violent reactions and even fires.

The NTNU research team is now working with local molten salt electrochemical specialist SINTEF to create laboratory-scale battery design and development, as well as test battery performance and materials.

The plan will be held until 2018 and sponsored by The Research Council of Norway.

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