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  Date:14th Feb 2012

Magnesium and Antimony based low cost batteries researched by MIT

Researchers at MIT are working on high temperature batteries using molten materials to form the positive and negative poles of the battery, as well as a layer of electrolyte. Material selection is the important factor the researchers are working on, looking for the materials that are abundant and inexpensive. One such combination suggested is magnesium for the negative electrode (top layer), a salt mixture containing magnesium chloride for the electrolyte (middle layer) and antimony for the positive electrode (bottom layer). The system would operate at a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius, or 1,292 degrees Fahrenheit.

Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT explains, "The battery delivers current as magnesium atoms lose two electrons, becoming magnesium ions that migrate through the electrolyte to the other electrode. There, they require two electrons and revert to ordinary magnesium atoms, which form an alloy with the antimony. To recharge, the battery is connected to a source of electricity, which drives magnesium out of the alloy and across the electrolyte, where it then rejoins the negative electrode."

On the cost factor of the battery Sadoway explains "don't care what the stuff is made of, or what the size is. The only question is what's the cost of storage" for a given amount of power. "I can build a gorgeous battery to a NASA price point," he says - but when cost is the primary driver, "that changes the search" for the best materials. Just based on the rarity and cost of some elements, "large sections of the periodic table are off limits."

These batteries are designed for storing power from renewable energy sources such as Solar PV, Wind.

 
          
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