OPINION

How new batteries can help address the global warming crisis

How new batteries can help address the global warming crisis

It is undeniable that the adverse effects of global warming are becoming more frequent and intense.

In late 2019, Australia faced one of the worst bushfire seasons, which killed at least 30 people, along with native vegetation and a plethora of animals.

The 2021 summer in North America has already broken temperature records in several cities of the Pacific Northwest, killing more than 100 people due to a severe heatwave.

These events are just some of the growing consequences of climate change caused by human activities, especially fossil fuel burning, which is the most common source of energy in the world.

Besides the negative climate effects that this action can cause, fossil fuels are becoming scarce with their constant consumption as they are also required to make consumables like plastics, lubricants and chemical feedstocks.

One solution to this problem is to use renewable sources of energy, such as the sun and the wind.

However, their intermittency prompts a big challenge in order to deliver baseload power to meet our consistent energy demands and replace fossil fuels as an energy source.

The use of batteries to store excess renewable power seems to be the most-attractive solution to solve this issue.

However, current lithium-ion batteries are still too expensive and have limitations in their design to fulfil the world's extreme power demands on a global level.

One limitation of current batteries is the use of a flammable and volatile liquid, causing safety concerns and limiting their operational temperature range.

In addition, this liquid inhibits the types of materials that can be used in a battery, decreasing capacity and increasing costs.

The replacement of this liquid with a suitable solid material, such as boron-hydrogen salts, will enable the fabrication of all-solid-state batteries.

These new batteries can afford a higher power-to-weight ratio, which means they will be able to hold more energy in the same volume than the current batteries.

All-solid-state batteries will increase safety and will enable the fabrication of different sized batteries, from microscopic, to much larger than we are used to.

However, further research and industrial development are required to make these new batteries available in the near future.

Australia is rich in renewable energy and is poised to be a world-leader in energy storage.

The development of all-solid-state batteries to store green energy can make our world more sustainable and limit the negative impacts of fossil fuel use.

Diego Souza is a PhD candidate from the Hydrogen Storage Research Group at Curtin University.

This story How new batteries can help address the global warming crisis first appeared on The Canberra Times.