CAISO connects the largest battery to the power grid

CAISO connected the largest battery storage in the US to California’s power grid, adding 62.5 megawatts of capacity to the grid. (Image Credit: Matthew Henry, Unsplash)


The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) connected the largest battery storage in the US to California’s power grid in June. It added 62.5 megawatts of storage interconnection to the ISO grid when the initial phase of LS Power Group’s Gateway Energy Storage Project in San Diego came online.

Currently, the power grid has 216 megawatts of storage capacity in operation. If all planned projects are complete on schedule, storage capacity will be upgraded to 923 megawatts by end of 2020, a six-fold increase from 136 megawatts.


Steve Berberish, ISO president and CEO, predicts that 15, gigawatts of battery storage will help California reach its goal of being carbon neutral by 2045. Based on the state’s targets, the ISO expects large increases in its battery storage through 2023. The Gateway Project, which will be fully operational in August 2020, has a total capacity of 250 megawatts. This makes it the largest Battery Energy Storage System in the world.

Japanese pioneer produces new resin-based battery

This res-based battery is 90% cheaper to create than traditional lithium-ion batteries. (Image Credit: APB Corporation)


Hideaki Horie, the founder of APB Corporation, has invented a new battery that’s 90% cheaper to create than conventional lithium-ion batteries. Backed by a group of Japanese firms, Horia discovered a technique that replaces basic components in batteries.  The resin construction of the new battery simplifies and quickens the manufacturing process. It allows 10-meter-long battery sheets to be stacked on top of each other, which increases the capacity.


This new resin build replaces the metal-lined electrodes and liquid electrolytes commonly used in lithium-ion batteries. More importantly, these resin-based batteries are fire-resistant due to a bipolar design that allows the battery’s surface to absorb surges.


However, the battery’s carrying capacity could be affected since polymers are less conductive than metal. A flaw in the bipolar design is that the cells are connected back-to-back in a series, which makes it difficult to control individual ones.


APB already has a large Japanese firm slated as its first customer. It also raised 8 billion yen in March to fully-equip one factory for mass production, scheduled to start next year.

Scientists invent a new process to extract lithium in Germany

Scientists have created a new process that makes it possible to mine lithium in geothermal plants from the Upper Rhine Graben. (Image Credit: KIT)


Scientists from KIT have invented and patented a new process to mine lithium in geothermal plants. By using minimally invasive technology, thousands of tons of lithium can be extracted from deep waters in the Upper Rhine Graben every year. There can be up to 200 milligrams of dissolved lithium per liter of salty thermal water reservoirs in rock formations in the Upper Rhine Trench.


Until now, it wasn’t possible to extract the resource using a suitable process in a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. In collaboration with industry partners, scientists are building a test facility for lithium extraction. The team plans on using the first prototype facility to extract several kilograms of lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide.


The construction of a large scale plant is planned if tests go well. This makes it possible to create several hundred tons of lithium hydroxide per year at the geothermal plants. Additionally, several thousand tons s of lithium can be extracted from the Upper Rhine Trench on the French and German sides per year.



APB’s resin-based battery to be used in a robot submarine

APB’s resin-based battery is being used in a robot submarine, which is expected to last 16 hours. That’s double the amount it can operate compared to using standard batteries. (Image Credit: Kawasaki Heavy Industries)


APB’s resin-based battery is now being put to use in an autonomous underwater vehicle in Japan. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is testing a robot submarine powered by an all-polymer battery. The submarine is expected to be commercialized and be put to use for subsea pipeline analysis by March 2022. It measures approximately 3 meters long and weighs 7 tons.


APB’s goal is to significantly cut down on manufacturing costs and improve safety. This is achieved by replacing the metal-line electrodes and liquid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries with a resin construction. Additionally, the bipolar design allows batteries to stack on top of each other to increase capacity.


Using APB’s new battery means that the robot submarine can operate for 16 hours, which is double the amount compared to using a standard battery. The resin-based battery is also seamless, allowing it to tolerate pressures when the submarine dives down to 3,000 meters.



Sticky tape allows batteries to last longer

Researchers have converted adhesive tape to a silicon oxide film, which replaces anodes in lithium metal batteries. This material triples the lifetime of zero-excess lithium metal batteries. (Image Credit: Rice University)


Researchers at Rice University have turned adhesive tape into a silicon oxide film that replaces anodes in lithium metal batteries. For this study, the team used an infrared laser cutter to transform the silicone-based adhesive into silicon oxide coating. Not only did the tape produce laser-induced graphene from the polyimide backing, but also a translucent film in the same place where the adhesive was.


The layer was created when they applied the tape to a copper current collector and treated it with lasers, heating it to a very high temperature of 2,300 Kelvin. This process created a porous coating made mostly of silicon and oxygen, along with small amounts of carbon in the form of graphene. Experiments showed that it could be used to absorb and release lithium metal without allowing dendrites to form.


However, lithium metal tends to degrade quickly while it’s charging and discharging with the bare current collector. These same problems were not found in anodes coated with laser-induced silicon oxide. Batteries fitted with this new coating showed that it tripled the lifetime of other zero-excess lithium metal batteries. It also retained 70% capacity while delivering 60 charge and discharge cycles.


The team says this technique is fast, safe, requires no solvents and can be done at room temperature. It can also produce films for metal nanoparticles, protective coatings and filters.


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