Can you imagine life without TED talks? We certainly can’t — especially with all the focus on sustainable energy from some of the world’s most brilliant people.
After pouring through tons of TED speaker presentations, we uncovered the top five that offer a hopeful, intelligent and inspiring look at the future of alternative, renewable energy. We’re going to post one per week for the next several weeks, with the hope to inspire and empower you to change the world, too! This week’s talk:
Donald Sadoway: The missing link to renewable energy
As solar and wind energy become the norm, how do we solve the problem of energy storage? After all, there is no battery out there today capable of meeting the demanding performance requirements of the grid — namely uncommonly high power, long service lifetime and super-low cost.
To tackle this immense challenge, MIT scientist and inventor Donald Sadoway approached the problem from a much different perspective — he researched the history of aluminum production. The process was invented in 1886 and transformed the once precious costing as much as silver to a common structural material costing less than 50 cents a pound.
Applying lessons of aluminum production, Sadoway set out to find the right combination of cheap, readily-available chemicals to build his miracle battery (it turned out to be magnesium for the top layer and antimony for the bottom layer, separated by liquid salt). He then recruited a team of passionate and dedicated scientists to build the battery.
Today, Sadoway’s MIT campus team is building battery cells 16 inches in diameter with a capacity of one kilowatt-hour (aka “the pizza”). Coming soon is a four kilowatt-hour cell that will be 36 inches in diameter. One variant of the technology allows the batteries to be stacked into one giant battery equaling two megawatt-hours, which is enough energy to power 200 American households per day.
Says Sadoway, “So here you have it, grid-level storage: silent, emissions-free, no moving parts, remotely controlled, designed to the market price point without subsidy.”
Sadoway’s corporation, the Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, has started commercial production of the batteries. Imagine the incredible potential if we could leverage this kind of novel power storage in the very near future!