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#1 2021-09-26 16:51:27

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Iron Air Battery

I think we talked about a rust battery but its not showing as a topic.

utube Iron Air Battery video

transcript
https://www.justhaveathink.com/iron-air-battery/

The main two ingredients of their technology are nothing more fancy than good old iron, and fresh air. Both extremely abundant, easily accessible, and dirt cheap. Good start.

The iron-air battery is actually a technology that’s been known about for decades, but until now there’s never been a market force strong enough to attract funding for development, partly because the batteries are very large and very heavy.

You certainly won’t be seeing iron-air batteries in smart phones or electric vehicles any time soon – they’re far too heavy for that, and lithium ion has pretty much captured that market already. But for stationary utility scale long duration energy storage, Form’s iron air technology looks like it could be an ideal solution.

The basic principle of the technology is breathtakingly simple. It’s something that Form refer to as ‘Reversible rusting’.

Each individual battery is a unit about the size of a washing machine containing between ten and twenty stacks of cells, each of which has an anode consisting of pebble-sized pellets of metallic iron on one side, and an air breathing cathode on the other side, all immersed in a water-based, non-flammable electrolyte, much like what you’d find inside a standard double A battery.

According to this twenty-nineteen article, the theoretical energy density of iron-air batteries is around seven hundred and sixty-four

watt-hours per kilogram. That’s several times greater than the best lithium-ion batteries on the market today

If you need an electrolyte  battery of a different material.

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#2 2021-09-27 06:43:38

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

Yes, I think I started a thread on this. This is the company website. There are loads of You Tube vids on the subject - quite rightly as this does seem to be a breakthrough technology.

https://formenergy.com/


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#3 2021-09-27 08:10:54

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: Iron Air Battery

For Louis re #2

If you started a thread about iron air batteries, it should be possible for you to find it and to show a link to it here.

For all ... if there is someone willing to help SpaceNut to develop a collection of posts about this technology, please do so.

The company (is there more than one?) behind this development will be supported by investors.

It will have early customers and trials a multiple locations.

(th)

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#4 2021-09-27 20:23:44

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Re: Iron Air Battery

Some of its here in a mixed topic Mystery Battery Technology

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#5 2021-09-28 16:56:28

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

Here it is:

http://newmars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=9987


"The Form Revolution".


tahanson43206 wrote:

For Louis re #2

If you started a thread about iron air batteries, it should be possible for you to find it and to show a link to it here.

For all ... if there is someone willing to help SpaceNut to develop a collection of posts about this technology, please do so.

The company (is there more than one?) behind this development will be supported by investors.

It will have early customers and trials a multiple locations.

(th)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#6 2021-09-28 17:32:04

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Re: Iron Air Battery

I do wish there was the merge topic function where posts could be selected and copied to the topic of choice but its gone in this version of software.

No wonder with that title....I would have never guessed

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#7 2021-09-28 18:15:58

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

I think Form will be as well known as Hoover, Tesla and Toyota in a few years.

SpaceNut wrote:

I do wish there was the merge topic function where posts could be selected and copied to the topic of choice but its gone in this version of software.

No wonder with that title....I would have never guessed


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#8 2021-10-10 13:58:57

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

Re: Iron Air Battery

I hope it doesn't end up locked behind a patent for the next 20 years...

More expensive, but perhaps an option - Open source all-iron battery for renewable energy storage


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#9 2021-10-10 16:35:26

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Re: Iron Air Battery

The iron battery in the paper is basically the Edison battery just with a twist to its construction.

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#10 2021-10-10 19:19:53

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: Iron Air Battery

SpaceNut,

If it really is a minor variation on the Edison battery, then those things have a definite lifespan and are not-so-cheap to make.  Iron is obviously much cheaper than Nickel, but it's really no different than the batteries of yore, which may not be a bad thing if they're truly recyclable into new batteries, and are electrical rather than electronic.

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#11 2021-10-10 19:42:26

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: Iron Air Battery

For SpaceNut .... in post #9 you've made a claim that I suspect is unsupportable.

I realize you don't have time to show a detailed comparison, but until someone provides support for your claim, I'm going to assume it was tossed off without much thought.

For Comparison:
Edison batteries have features a, b, c and d

This battery by the Form company has features x, y, z and r

Which of these features are the same? 


(th)

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#12 2021-10-10 19:48:31

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

Even if there were very similar features I would say it doesn't matter. Certainly iron-air batteries were around in the 1960s when NASA were investigating them. So what?  It's all about implementing a technology. 

To give an example. FAX technology was invented in about 1910 but it took about 70 years for anyone to implement it properly, in a cost effective way  (before it got succeeded by e mail).


tahanson43206 wrote:

For SpaceNut .... in post #9 you've made a claim that I suspect is unsupportable.

I realize you don't have time to show a detailed comparison, but until someone provides support for your claim, I'm going to assume it was tossed off without much thought.

For Comparison:
Edison batteries have features a, b, c and d

This battery by the Form company has features x, y, z and r

Which of these features are the same? 


(th)


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#13 2021-10-10 19:57:07

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Re: Iron Air Battery

link by terraformer post 8

The all-iron cell is similar to historical electrochemical cells like the Edison cell (iron-nickel, first developed in 1901).

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#14 2021-10-10 20:00:44

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: Iron Air Battery

Louis,

Since Lead-acid existed before modern combustion engines, is that any indication that we might have to wait another 70 years for someone to "invent Iron-air batteries properly"?

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#15 2021-10-10 20:54:26

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: Iron Air Battery

For SpaceNut re departure from topic

This happens all the time in the NewMars forum.

The air-iron battery is an entirely new technology never seen before on the face of the Earth (or pretty close)

The all-iron battery is a completely different battery that has nothing to do with the subject of this topic.

The names are so similar, it is easy to see why confusion occurred.

If you want to create a topic for the all-iron battery, that would make sense.

This topic is (presumably) about the ** air ** iron battery.

The technology is reported to be protected and not revealed, except to say that it is NOT like the Edison battery in any way, shape or form.

Actually, I don't ** know ** that, but neither does anyone else.

If someone ** does ** find anything about the air-iron battery this would be a good place to post it.

(th)

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#16 2021-10-10 21:05:27

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,333

Re: Iron Air Battery

https://formenergy.com/technology/

https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio … gy_Storage

Recent interest in the iron–air flow battery, known since the 1970s, has been driven by incentives to develop low-cost, environmentally friendly and robust rechargeable batteries. With a predicted open-circuit potential of 1.28 V, specific charge capacity of <300 A h kg−1 and reported efficiencies of 96, 40 and 35 % for charge, voltage and energy, respectively, the iron–air system could be well suited for a range of applications, including automotive. A number of challenges still need to be resolved, including: efficient and moderate-cost bifunctional oxygen electrodes, low-cost iron electrodes able to decrease corrosion and hydrogen evolution, new cell designs using additive manufacturing technologies and mathematical models to improve battery performance. This Minireview considers the thermodynamics and kinetics aspects of the iron–air battery, the operational variables and cell components, thereby highlighting current challenges and assessing recent developments.

1.png

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#17 2021-10-10 23:20:55

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: Iron Air Battery

tahanson43206,

Apparently, someone does know exactly what this battery technology is.  It's hopefully very cheap, hopefully better than existing technologies for the intended purpose, and hopefully scalable to the degree required.  All "hope and change", but without any real change, since it's still a normal battery using normal materials that are subject to all of the normal material property constraints dictated by basic physics.  There are lots of astonishing advertisement claims backed by precisely zero independent tests to differentiate marketing hype from real world performance.

Form Energy could clear up all of that mystery by providing the results from a single independent test, but has elected not to do so.

I'm guessing there are three most probable explanations for that:

1. Their battery isn't any kind of miraculous new technology, even if it does work at some level (we already knew that it could, because it already did work before I was even born, but not well enough to justify using it for anything)

2. They're still having serious developmental issues and have yet to make their technology run reliably or to scale to the degree required for it to be useful to their target market (this is the most probable explanation, and is the actual explanation for why we're not using batteries for grid scale storage)

3. They simply want more money to tinker endlessly to satisfy their scientists' child-like curiosity (if you can always get someone to provide more funding, then you can make a career out of research projects, even if they never result in usable technology)

Remember what Elon Musk said about fundamentally better battery technology?

There may be some radically better battery technology out there, but I've never seen it.  Bring your device in, we'll test it to see if it matches your claims, or simply comes close enough, and Tesla will cut you a check for any reasonable amount of money (aka, "make you rich beyond your wildest dreams").  Thus far, there have been precisely zero people or companies who have come up with something fundamentally better than Lead-acid or Lithium-ion.

You know what people with viable battery technology do?

They sell it to a corporation like Panasonic or DuraCell or Energizer or Tesla, that specializes in making and using batteries, and then spend the rest of their natural life sipping Margaritas on the beach while their wife and kids frolic in the ocean.  If that's what they've actually done, then they deserve every dollar we give them to do whatever they think is worth doing.  If it was me, I can guarantee you that that's what I'd be doing.

I have a hunch that 50 years from now, we'll still be throwing mad money at batteries, largely without result, commercialized batteries will still be a joke that isn't funny for both grid storage and motor vehicles, and all that time / money / brain power we squandered, could have been funneled into practical solutions, is lost forever.  Seriously, though, when is it time to give up on this "electric everything" silliness, in favor of something that could actually work using technology that we humans actually know how to make?

That hot rocks technology that Louis brought to our attention had the benefit of using rock to store energy.  Nobody had to invent a super secret new technology, nor wave their magic wand over a vat of chemicals to transform it into Unobtanium, and it would have the benefit of being mass manufacturable and scalable to the degree required, right effing now.

We've been making and tinkering with batteries for longer than we've been making and tinkering with internal combustion engines.  Thus far, the combustion engines we were using in the 1900s would still be superior to batteries in terms of both cost and weight, which were the two metrics that actually mattered for making a practical internally-powered motor vehicle.

Has anybody ever heard of the pendulum effect?

If the technology becomes so sophisticated that nobody can fix it, let alone truly understand how it works, then it's no longer a viable technology.  If Form Energy actually came up with a repairable and maintainable technology, then my hats off to them, they deserve high honors and heaps of praise, and I want their engineers to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Until we have real world test results, I'll leave it at that.

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#18 2021-10-13 19:27:54

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

1. My understanding is Form Energy bought up a proprietary cathode which makes all the difference to being able to make efficient iron-air batteries.

2. Odd then that a utility scale provider has contracted with them, don't you think.

3. This is not a child's toy. Stop being ridiculous.

I've been through this sort of thing before with wind and solar. 20 years back people were pointing out all the drawbacks and the high costs etc without seeing the potential. Now we are well advanced on the road to a reliable and comprehensive green energy solution.

Even if iron-air batteries don't work, green hydrogen is now becoming a viable storage technology.

Battery prices reduced by 90% over the last decade. If you want to bet they won't reduce over the next 10 years feel free to bet but a lot of analysts think major cost reductions will continue because of technological innovation and economies of scale (as more and more batteries are used in electricity production).


kbd512 wrote:

tahanson43206,

Apparently, someone does know exactly what this battery technology is.  It's hopefully very cheap, hopefully better than existing technologies for the intended purpose, and hopefully scalable to the degree required.  All "hope and change", but without any real change, since it's still a normal battery using normal materials that are subject to all of the normal material property constraints dictated by basic physics.  There are lots of astonishing advertisement claims backed by precisely zero independent tests to differentiate marketing hype from real world performance.

Form Energy could clear up all of that mystery by providing the results from a single independent test, but has elected not to do so.

I'm guessing there are three most probable explanations for that:

1. Their battery isn't any kind of miraculous new technology, even if it does work at some level (we already knew that it could, because it already did work before I was even born, but not well enough to justify using it for anything)

2. They're still having serious developmental issues and have yet to make their technology run reliably or to scale to the degree required for it to be useful to their target market (this is the most probable explanation, and is the actual explanation for why we're not using batteries for grid scale storage)

3. They simply want more money to tinker endlessly to satisfy their scientists' child-like curiosity (if you can always get someone to provide more funding, then you can make a career out of research projects, even if they never result in usable technology)

Remember what Elon Musk said about fundamentally better battery technology?

There may be some radically better battery technology out there, but I've never seen it.  Bring your device in, we'll test it to see if it matches your claims, or simply comes close enough, and Tesla will cut you a check for any reasonable amount of money (aka, "make you rich beyond your wildest dreams").  Thus far, there have been precisely zero people or companies who have come up with something fundamentally better than Lead-acid or Lithium-ion.

You know what people with viable battery technology do?

They sell it to a corporation like Panasonic or DuraCell or Energizer or Tesla, that specializes in making and using batteries, and then spend the rest of their natural life sipping Margaritas on the beach while their wife and kids frolic in the ocean.  If that's what they've actually done, then they deserve every dollar we give them to do whatever they think is worth doing.  If it was me, I can guarantee you that that's what I'd be doing.

I have a hunch that 50 years from now, we'll still be throwing mad money at batteries, largely without result, commercialized batteries will still be a joke that isn't funny for both grid storage and motor vehicles, and all that time / money / brain power we squandered, could have been funneled into practical solutions, is lost forever.  Seriously, though, when is it time to give up on this "electric everything" silliness, in favor of something that could actually work using technology that we humans actually know how to make?

That hot rocks technology that Louis brought to our attention had the benefit of using rock to store energy.  Nobody had to invent a super secret new technology, nor wave their magic wand over a vat of chemicals to transform it into Unobtanium, and it would have the benefit of being mass manufacturable and scalable to the degree required, right effing now.

We've been making and tinkering with batteries for longer than we've been making and tinkering with internal combustion engines.  Thus far, the combustion engines we were using in the 1900s would still be superior to batteries in terms of both cost and weight, which were the two metrics that actually mattered for making a practical internally-powered motor vehicle.

Has anybody ever heard of the pendulum effect?

If the technology becomes so sophisticated that nobody can fix it, let alone truly understand how it works, then it's no longer a viable technology.  If Form Energy actually came up with a repairable and maintainable technology, then my hats off to them, they deserve high honors and heaps of praise, and I want their engineers to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Until we have real world test results, I'll leave it at that.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#19 2021-10-14 06:50:59

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: Iron Air Battery

kbd512 wrote:

That hot rocks technology that Louis brought to our attention had the benefit of using rock to store energy.  Nobody had to invent a super secret new technology, nor wave their magic wand over a vat of chemicals to transform it into Unobtanium, and it would have the benefit of being mass manufacturable and scalable to the degree required, right effing now.

We've been making and tinkering with batteries for longer than we've been making and tinkering with internal combustion engines.  Thus far, the combustion engines we were using in the 1900s would still be superior to batteries in terms of both cost and weight, which were the two metrics that actually mattered for making a practical internally-powered motor vehicle.

Has anybody ever heard of the pendulum effect?

If the technology becomes so sophisticated that nobody can fix it, let alone truly understand how it works, then it's no longer a viable technology.  If Form Energy actually came up with a repairable and maintainable technology, then my hats off to them, they deserve high honors and heaps of praise, and I want their engineers to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Until we have real world test results, I'll leave it at that.

Agreed.  The pendulum effect is exactly the trap that nuclear power has fallen into here on Earth.  We have attempted to engineer infinite safety into LWRs using ever more intricate systems and quality control.  As a result, the systems are now so complex that they take decades to build, need supply chains that no longer exist and have to be rebuilt from scratch and end up costing a fortune.  The SMR concepts are an attempt at a fresh start, relying on assembly line manufacturing and simpler passive systems that are easy to build and maintain.  Time will tell how well this will work out.  But I digress.

The essential problem with the Form battery is the sluggish reaction rate of iron oxidation.  This limits the power density of the battery, by limiting the discharge rate.  Form are essentially saying that because the battery is made from cheap materials, this won't be a problem, because the batteries can be scaled to provide long-term storage.  Unfortunately, raw materials costs are only one of the costs in a finished system.  The bulkier the battery solution is, the more it cost to build.  The more it will cost to install and maintain.  A problem that is very difficult for battery technologies to surmount, is that the marginal cost of storing a MWh in a battery, is inversely proportional to the number of charge-discharge cycles it achieves in a year.  Kind of like having a car - the more you drive it, the lower the marginal capital cost per mile driven.  What this means is, the longer you want to store energy, the cheaper the storage medium needs to be.

That puts batteries at a disadvantage, because they are closely engineered, manufactured products.  If we look at how long-term storage is actually provided, it is in the form of tanks full of stored hydrocarbon liquids, compressed coal heaps or stacked wood in large sheds.  These methods have very low capital and embodied energy cost per unit of energy stored.  And that is why in reality, in spite of all the hype about batteries and hydrogen, the European electricity grid is evolving towards a mixture of onshore and offshore wind, with gas turbines powered by LNG providing back up.  Coal is even cheaper to store, which is why coal power is still relied upon to fill in interseasonal mismatches between generation and demand in Europe.  This is what happens in real life, because so long as we have access to fossil fuels, a hybrid system like this gives a much better return on invested energy and whole system power density.  And this matters to economic performance in the real world.  So long as abundant fossil fuels remain available, no one will ever beat a seam welded carbon steel tank containing liquid hydrocarbons, in terms of the energy stored over energy invested building it.  And it will be tough to invent any power generation technology with better power density (and therefore energy profit ratio) than a gas turbine burning hydrocarbon fuels.  Absent of market distortions, high system power density and EROI, tend to line up quite well with overall financial viability.

This brings us back to Louis's hot rock energy storage concept, raised previously.  Why do I think this is his best idea?  Hot rock (heated to several hundred °C) has high energy storage capacity  - as good as most chemical batteries.  Crushed rock is a very energy cheap material and is therefore financially cheap as well.  It is quite often a waste product that people will pay to be rid of.  The main cost here is the cost of containing and as we have noted, tanks are cheap.  Sand can be used for insulation between a double skinned tank.  It therefore meets the criteria for a long-term energy storage medium - it is cheap, both in money and in terms of energy costs.  As KBD512 has noted, the power conversion equipment, turning heat into electricity, is old technology that can easily be scaled up to GW power levels.  We know that it will work, because we have done it already.  Thermodynamic systems have high power density, which is another important consideration for maximising whole system EROI and viability.  Ultimately, if there is to be a solution for long term energy storage, I think this is what it will be.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-10-14 07:35:51)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#20 2021-10-14 07:21:46

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,913

Re: Iron Air Battery

Two points: the iron-air battery won't be used every day. My estimate is they might be used maybe 35 days a year. This is long term storage for when green plus energy fails to deliver sufficient energy. For daily (essentially nightime/early morning) storage it's pretty clear that lithium batteries, green hydrogen, and hydro (pumped or non-pumped) can provide cover when energy production is running at average levels.

There's going to be a lot of trial and error on the road to a fully reliable green energy system but I think now we can see the outlines of a solution: wind, solar, other green energy (tidal, sea current, wave etc), energy from waste, biofuels, green hydrogen, heat storage, lithium batteries and iron-air batteries all working in combination.


Calliban wrote:
kbd512 wrote:

That hot rocks technology that Louis brought to our attention had the benefit of using rock to store energy.  Nobody had to invent a super secret new technology, nor wave their magic wand over a vat of chemicals to transform it into Unobtanium, and it would have the benefit of being mass manufacturable and scalable to the degree required, right effing now.

We've been making and tinkering with batteries for longer than we've been making and tinkering with internal combustion engines.  Thus far, the combustion engines we were using in the 1900s would still be superior to batteries in terms of both cost and weight, which were the two metrics that actually mattered for making a practical internally-powered motor vehicle.

Has anybody ever heard of the pendulum effect?

If the technology becomes so sophisticated that nobody can fix it, let alone truly understand how it works, then it's no longer a viable technology.  If Form Energy actually came up with a repairable and maintainable technology, then my hats off to them, they deserve high honors and heaps of praise, and I want their engineers to become rich beyond their wildest dreams.  Until we have real world test results, I'll leave it at that.

Agreed.  The pendulum effect is exactly the trap that nuclear power has fallen into here on Earth.  We have attempted to engineer infinite safety into LWRs using ever more intricate systems and quality control.  As a result, the systems are now so complex that they take decades to build, need supply chains that no longer exist and have to be rebuilt from scratch and end up costing a fortune.  The SMR concepts are an attempt at a fresh start, relying on assembly line manufacturing and simpler passive systems that are easy to build and maintain.  Time will tell how well this will work out.  But I digress.

The essential problem with the Form battery is the sluggish reaction rate of iron oxidation.  This limits the power density of the battery, by limiting the discharge rate.  Form are essentially saying that because the battery is made from cheap materials, this won't be a problem, because the batteries can be scaled to provide long-term storage.  The problem is that the marginal cost of storing a MWh in a battery, is inversely proportional to the number of charge-discharge cycles it achieves in a year.  Kind of like having a car - the more you drive it, the lower the marginal capital cost per mile driven.  So


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#21 2021-10-14 07:45:18

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: Iron Air Battery

louis wrote:

Two points: the iron-air battery won't be used every day. My estimate is they might be used maybe 35 days a year. This is long term storage for when green plus energy fails to deliver sufficient energy.

Louis, if you read what I have written, I explain that the low utilisation rate of long-term storage is exactly the problem with it and why batteries are intrinsically unsuitable.  It makes each marginal MWh stored very expensive because your battery gets paid for what it discharges and delivers to the grid, not for sitting there months at a time full up, but doing nothing.  If it is only charging and discharging occasionally, it is an expensive overhead for a utility to maintain.  Which is why in real life, grid batteries are used for hourly frequency control and gas turbines (with stored fuel) are used for long-term grid balancing.  The reasons are actually rooted in physics.  With thermal storage, you are at least in with a shot at producing a viable system, because overall embodied energy is quite low.  This compensates for the poor utilisation rate and should allow a reasonable 'energy stored over energy invested' for the system over its lifetime.  Long term storage needs to be energy cheap to build.

louis wrote:

For daily (essentially nightime/early morning) storage it's pretty clear that lithium batteries, green hydrogen, and hydro (pumped or non-pumped) can provide cover when energy production is running at average levels.

So, we are talking about having multiple energy storage systems, some sitting in standby waiting for when the others run out of juice.  Why buy one system, when you can have two for twice the price?

It might be of interest to know that in the real world, China, the low cost manufacturer of these sorts of things, is experiencing huge producer price inflation.  It is running short of the coal that it uses to make all of this green energy infrastructure.  And oil, the precursor for the diesel that powers the global goods transportation system, has doubled in price in less than a year, as supply constraints assert themselves.  All complex, energy intensive products (like batteries, cars, solar panels, electric generators) are now getting more expensive, not cheaper.  And central banks, spooked by inflation are now edging towards raising interest rates.

Green fantasy energy scenarios are going to be getting progressively more expensive from now on, as the fossil fuels needed to produce all of this bulky and energy expensive stuff, are now entering an era of serious supply constraints.  When energy is cheap and interest rates are low, these sort of idealistic indulgences look achievable on a pure cost basis, because you are exporting the costs into the future.  Unfortunately, the future has now turned up.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-10-14 08:14:38)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#22 2021-10-14 07:59:18

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: Iron Air Battery

Louis,

1. Is your understanding based upon actual design information that you have, or pure speculation on your part?

2. Lots of people are conducting experiments right now.  I've yet to see a 100% wind and/or solar grid only backed up by battery storage technologies.  Odd that every single utility scale provider is using natural gas or coal or nuclear power as a backup, don't you think?

3. Who's being more ridiculous, the person pointing out that this brand new technology has never been demonstrated at scale, or the person asserting performance and technical information without evidence?

Whatever the potential of wind and solar, there is no country on planet Earth that has actually stopped using fossil fuels and/or nuclear power.  When it comes to powering humanity at a civilization level scale, I don't deal in hypothetical situations.  Nuclear fusion and matter/anti-matter also have great potential, but we've yet to see a viable solution for implementing those technologies, either.

"Even if iron-air batteries don't work, green hydrogen is now becoming a viable storage technology." <- Here you're already asserting that some other technology will work, without evidence.

I'm not a betting man, but I can simply look at all available historical data and plainly see that any assertion that battery storage will become "too cheap to meter" is wildly divergent from observed reality.  There is no such thing as a battery that lasts 20 years, nor a battery that approaches within an order of magnitude of the energy density of hydrocarbons.  If a "miracle happens" and that changes dramatically, then great, but I've yet to witness anything like the miracle that will be required for batteries to become cheaper than the base materials used to manufacture them.  Glittering assertions that run directly counter to observable reality are of little interest to me, because they can't be used to re-power human civilization.

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#23 2021-10-14 09:57:51

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: Iron Air Battery

kbd512 wrote:

Louis,

1. Is your understanding based upon actual design information that you have, or pure speculation on your part?

2. Lots of people are conducting experiments right now.  I've yet to see a 100% wind and/or solar grid only backed up by battery storage technologies.  Odd that every single utility scale provider is using natural gas or coal or nuclear power as a backup, don't you think?

3. Who's being more ridiculous, the person pointing out that this brand new technology has never been demonstrated at scale, or the person asserting performance and technical information without evidence?

Whatever the potential of wind and solar, there is no country on planet Earth that has actually stopped using fossil fuels and/or nuclear power.  When it comes to powering humanity at a civilization level scale, I don't deal in hypothetical situations.  Nuclear fusion and matter/anti-matter also have great potential, but we've yet to see a viable solution for implementing those technologies, either.

"Even if iron-air batteries don't work, green hydrogen is now becoming a viable storage technology." <- Here you're already asserting that some other technology will work, without evidence.

I'm not a betting man, but I can simply look at all available historical data and plainly see that any assertion that battery storage will become "too cheap to meter" is wildly divergent from observed reality.  There is no such thing as a battery that lasts 20 years, nor a battery that approaches within an order of magnitude of the energy density of hydrocarbons.  If a "miracle happens" and that changes dramatically, then great, but I've yet to witness anything like the miracle that will be required for batteries to become cheaper than the base materials used to manufacture them.  Glittering assertions that run directly counter to observable reality are of little interest to me, because they can't be used to re-power human civilization.

The thermal energy storage concept is a better one, as we have both alluded to.  Whilst it has comparable energy density to batteries, it's embodied energy is orders of magnitude lower.  So it's 'energy stored over energy invested' is likely to be decent.  And thermodynamic systems like that could last for several decades once built.  It is actually hard to imagine a storage system that will be simpler or cheaper in embodied energy terms, than a steel tank full of ground up stones or an insulated hot water tank.

In Europe at least, relatively high wind levels mean that wind dominated electricity generation, coupled with thermal storage, could actually generate a sizable fraction of the power needed by the continent.  And it could do so at acceptable reliability if the system is properly configured.  But careful attention must be paid to whole system (generation, storage and consumption) embodied energy and EROI.  Forget about electric cars with their enormous additional demands on the grid.  Sustainable transport will be rail based.  There may need to be changes to living patterns for many people during winter.  Heating isn't something we can affordably do using electricity, at least not with the heat loads we expect today.  But some amount of heating cam be provided using storage heaters, heat pumps and district heating.

So my professional advice as an engineering analyst to anyone hell bent on running their society on ambient energy in Europe or North America: focus more on wind energy than solar energy.  Focus on grid scale and end use thermal energy storage to manage intermittent generation issues.  For rarer lulls, install a set of open exhaust gas turbines running on chilled LPG or diesel.  You won't need to use these much, but you need a low capital cost generator that can afford to sit there for very occasional deep lulls in wind.  It needs a low capital cost, so open cycle GTs it is.  Try to focus on social and technological options that allow society to adapt to intermittent supply, at least to a limited extent.  Schedule holidays and close some businesses when wind energy generation is known to be lowest - summer.

I suspect that we have now firmly entered the era of declining net energy from fossil fuels.  This is clearly evident in China, where domestic energy production is dominated by coal, whose production is stagnating, prices are soaring and rolling blackouts are becoming a new normal.  If this is the case, much cherished wishful thinking on renewable energy systems that never stop getting cheaper, is going to be dashed.  That trend has already reversed.  Prices and supply issues with these systems will soon explode, because they are so resource intensive to produce.  That is a problem rooted in physics, not technology or economics.  My advice: focus on home grown wind turbine technologies.  Examine ways of reducing embodied energy, like using concrete instead of steel towers and stone or brick towers for smaller onshore units.  For smaller turbines, wood or wooden composite blades are a practical way of reducing embodied energy.  Consider wind farms in which individual turbines transfer power to a central generating station via compressed air or hydraulics.  This will simplify individual turbines and reduce the amount of expensive rare earth's embodied in the whole system.  In some situations, directly powering machinery from a coupled wind turbine shaft or hydraulic pump, may have benefits over electrical transmission.  In most cases, electricity is a more versatile and efficient transmission medium, but there are exceptions.

Try to nodalise transportation.  Long distance travel will be less frequent.  Supply chains will need to relocalise.  The bulk of long distance human journeys will need to be by bus, coach or rail.  Forget about cars.  An RE powered society will not have sufficient surplus energy for cars, regardless of whether they are combustion or electric powered.  Goods transportation will be by ship, rail, pipeline or short range stored energy road vehicle.  Travel will take longer than it does today.

Try to centralise heat loads.  A baker, restaurants, swimming pool, launderette, pub, communal sitting room, library, etc, can all be clustered around a single central hot rock, inter-seasonal thermal store, providing heat for cooking, water and space heating.  A small steam plant could be located here as well, converting stored heat back into electricity and using the waste heat for space and water heating.  Houses will be colder than they are today.  In winter, families will sleep together in a single room, which may be heated by a small storage heater.  Houses as a whole will not, unless those people happen to be rich.  Hot water will be available in houses but will be used more sparingly.  Most people will wash at the swimming pool / bath house, located at the community thermal store.  Holidays will either be local or staycations.

Just a few thoughts.  Be prepared for a way of life that is materially poorer, less mobile and more collective than you are used to.  Forget about space travel or going to Mars.  An RE powered economy won't have sufficient surplus wealth or energy to muster resources for things like that.  We have been able to aspire to such things, only because of the enormous (but short term) burst of surplus energy and consequent wealth unleashed by stored fossil energy.  There is no way for low power density ambient energy to allow us to continue living as we did on the once abundant, but now rapidly depleting inheritance of stored fossil energy.  It is a thermodynamic impossibility.

So there you have it.  Are you ready to jump into your renewable energy future?  Or should we start talking about those nuclear reactors?

Last edited by Calliban (2021-10-14 11:12:12)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#24 2021-10-14 11:29:59

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: Iron Air Battery

For Calliban ... as often happens in this forum, we have departed from the intent of the topic.

I'd like to see the topic return to concentration on this new/old form of electricity storage.

I agree that it would be helpful if Form were to make more information available, and I expect that in time, they will.

However, your recent post is worthy of review by others as well as by the iron Air Battery enthusiasts.

Please consider copy/paste to put the post into a topic where it might be a better fit.

(th)

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