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Breaking through with a better battery for storing renewable energy.

By OSU Press Release

Photo credit: Unknown

Renewable power sources like wind and solar need large-scale battery arrays to store the generated energy and supply the electric grid when there’s no sun or wind. Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a solution for a better battery — one that’s efficient, safe, sustainable and economical for both utilities and consumers.

Production of today’s most widely used battery technology — using lithium-ion as the critical metal component — relies on shrinking supplies of two other metals, cobalt and nickel, without which the batteries would not function. Those rare metals, however, are toxic and can contaminate ecosystems and water sources if they leach out of landfills.

Zinc metal batteries are an energy-dense alternative to lithium-ion, made from a metal that’s both safe and abundant. Previously, these batteries have been limited, because of their poor recharging efficiency and a chemical reaction producing unwanted hydrogen, which greatly reduced their cycle life. But scientists led by Oregon State researcher Xiulei “David” Ji have resolved those limitations with one big breakthrough.

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