A Chemical Compound Found In Rhubarb Has Just Solved Renewable Energy’s Biggest Problem

rhubarb pie

We recently explained why insufficient energy storage is renewable energy’s biggest problem: when the sun is not shining or the wind isn’t blowing, it creates all kinds of disruptions to the electric grid.

Existing solutions to the problem are extremely expensive, and aren’t even that efficient.

Now, Harvard researchers say they’ve found a cheap solution that addresses both those problems.

In a new paper published Jan. 9 in the journal Nature, they say an overlooked group of organic compound, called quinones, can be used to create an inexpensive battery capable of charging and discharging renewable electricity much more rapidly than existing metal batteries can.

“That’s really our innovation — quinones turn out to be naturally abundant and very inexpensive and very stable,” co-author Michael Aziz told Business Insider by phone Friday.

The trick is that they are water soluble, which means you can set up large, inexpensive tanks to hold electricity, instead of having to engineer solid-state batteries like ones found in cars. These “flow batteries” would be capable of storing one kilowatt hour of energy using chemicals that cost $27, a third of the price of existing systems, according to a write-up of the study — For more information read the original article here.    

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