Metal-air batteries are made up of electrochemical cells that use a generally inexpensive metal that uses oxygen in the air to generate electricity.
The manufacturer of batteries Form Energy, announced that it is developing an iron-air battery, with capacity to operate for 100 hours and whose production costs are lower than the production of lithium batteries.
Through a releaseForm Energy, a US company dedicated to the manufacture of batteries, presented the technology behind its new series of iron-air batteries, mainly intended to store electricity generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. These systems could supply electricity to the supply network for several days, approximately 100 hours according to the company.
The use of these specimens is proposed for the purposes indicated, given their dimensions. Being about the size of a washing machine and quite heavy, these batteries were not intended for use in small applications. Rather, it is proposed to use them in a chain and thus, store large amounts of electricity.
Clustered in an area of approximately half a hectare, thousands of these batteries in a network could generate one megawatt if low-density specimens are used or triple if high-density batteries are used.
In the shared announcement, Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and co-founder of Form Energy, commented: “We conducted an extensive review of available technologies and have reinvented the iron-air battery to optimize it for multi-day energy storage for the utility grid. With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it is needed, even during several days of extreme weather or grid outages ».
The dynamics behind the batteries of this composition is based on the capture of oxygen from the air, which is responsible for oxidizing, in a reversible process, the iron contained in the battery. This exchange between iron and oxide in both directions creates the conditions for the energy stored in the battery to be conserved for longer than in conventional batteries.
The cells are stacked inside a non-flammable, water-based electrolyte, which the company says is similar to that used in standard AA batteries – the cells are made of iron and air electrodes.
Form Energy points out that its batteries demand competitive system costs with conventional power plants, going from the 80 dollars per kW / h of storage of the systems based on lithium ion, to the between 6 and 20 dollars per kW / h that they offer these new iron-air proposals, in their most basic form or integrated into a system, respectively.
In times marked by a growing interest in sustainability, in addition to reducing costs, this proposal can also contribute to the replacement of the use of fossil fuels.
For additional reference, the Form Energy website lists prominent investors such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. Also, in that space it is revealed that the company already has agreements with some public service companies, such as Great River Energy in Minnesota, a town from which the battery company is also native.