Energy storage is a crucial aspect of our daily lives and a critical factor in the transition to clean and renewable energy. But, despite the many advancements in battery technology, we are still looking for a perfectly affordable, efficient solution. This is why scientists and researchers are constantly looking for new technologies that could revolutionize the energy storage industry. One such technology is the iron-air battery, a 140-year-old technology revamped by a team of scientists at MIT and a startup company called Form Energy.
Iron-air batteries are metal-air batteries that use iron as the anode and air as the cathode. They have been around since 1878, but they were not rechargeable because they corroded quickly once the airflow started. However, the team at MIT found a way to reverse the corroding process, which they call "reverse rusting," which makes the iron-air battery a rechargeable technology.
The iron-air battery is ten times cheaper than current Li-ion batteries, costing around $20 per kWh of capacity, compared to up to $200 per kWh in the case of Li-Ion batteries. This makes them truly affordable and accessible to the masses. Iron is a cheap and abundant metal, making it an ideal choice for battery production.
Although the iron-air battery is unsuitable for electric vehicles due to its slow charge and recharge cycle, it's perfect for grid-level energy storage. It excels at long-term energy storage and can deliver more than 3 MW output capacity per acre. However, because they are slow, they cannot handle demand spikes, so they need to be backed up by Li-ion packs.
Form Energy, the company founded by scientists who invented the iron-air rechargeable battery, is set to commercialize this technology. They have attracted investors like Breakthrough Energy Ventures and steel giant ArcelorMittal, and are building a new factory in West Virginia that is set to start production in 2024. The $760-million project will occupy 55 acres of property along the Ohio River in Weirton, West Virginia, a city once one of America's most essential steel towns. This location will provide easy access to the iron needed to manufacture the batteries. The company has received a state financial incentive package worth $290 million to set foot in West Virginia and will create 750 jobs when the battery factory operates at total capacity.
In conclusion, the iron-air battery is a promising technology that could revolutionize the energy storage industry. It's ten times cheaper than current Li-ion batteries and perfect for grid-level energy storage. Form Energy's plans to start production in 2024 are a step in the right direction, and we can't wait to see the impact this technology will have on the energy storage industry and our daily lives.
Author: Christian Kromme
First Appeared On: Disruptive Inspiration Daily
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